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Red Skin, White Masks

Indigenous Americas
Robert Warrior, Series Editor
Chadwick Allen, Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies
Raymond D. Austin, Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law: A Tradition of Tribal Self-Governance
Lisa Brooks, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast
Kevin Bruyneel, The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations
Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition
James H. Cox, The Red Land to the South: American Indian Writers and Indigenous Mexico
Daniel Heath Justice, Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History
Brendan Hokowhitu and Vijay Devadas, The Fourth Eye: Mori Media in Aotearoa New Zealand
Thomas King, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative
Scott Richard Lyons, X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent
Jean M. OBrien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England
Paul Chaat Smith, Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong
Gerald Vizenor, Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point
Robert Warrior, The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction
Robert A. Williams, Jr., Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America

Red Skin, White Masks

Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition
Glen Sean Coulthard

Foreword by Taiaiake Alfred

Indigenous Americas

University of Minnesota Press

Minneapolis London

Portions of chapter 1 were previously published as This Is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a Critical Indigenous Philosophy, University of
Toronto Quarterly 77, no. 1 (2008): 16466, reprinted with permission from University of Toronto Press,; and as
Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the Politics of Recognition in Canada, Contemporary Political Theory 6, no. 4 (2007):
43760. Portions of chapter 3 were previously published as Resisting Culture: Seyla Benhabibs Deliberative Approach to the Politics of
Recognition in Colonial Contexts, in Deliberative Democracy in Practice, ed. David Kahane (Vancouver, BC: University of British
Columbia Press, 2009), 138-54, reprinted with permission of the publisher, copyright University of British Columbia Press 2009, all rights
Copyright 2014 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published by the University of Minnesota Press
111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Coulthard, Glen Sean.
Red skin, white masks : rejecting the colonial politics of recognition / Glen Sean Coulthard ; foreword by Taiaiake Alfred.
(Indigenous Americas)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4529-4243-8
1. Indians of North AmericaCanadaGovernment relations. 2. Indians of North AmericaCanadaPolitics and government. 3.
Indians of North AmericaLegal status, laws. etc.Canada. 4. Indians, Treatment ofCanada. 5. CanadaEthnic relationsPolitical
aspects. I. Title.
E92.C68 2014
The University of Minnesota is an equal-opportunity educator and employer.

For Richard Park Coulthard (19422012)

Taiaiake Alfred

Introduction. Subjects of Empire

1. The Politics of Recognition in Colonial Contexts
2. For the Land: The Dene Nations Struggle for Self-Determination
3. Essentialism and the Gendered Politics of Aboriginal Self-Government
4. Seeing Red: Reconciliation and Resentment
5. The Plunge into the Chasm of the Past: Fanon, Self-Recognition, and Decolonization
Conclusion. Lessons from Idle No More: The Future of Indigenous Activism

Taiaiake Alfred
Not so very long ago, in Canada there numbered just less than fourteen million inhabitants: thirteen
million human beings, and half a million Natives. The former had the land; the others had the memory
of it. Between the two there were hired chiefs, an Indian Affairs bureaucracy, and a small
bourgeoisie, all three shams from the very beginning to the end, which served as go-betweens. In this
unending colony the truth stood naked, but the settlers preferred it hidden away or at least dressed: the
Natives had to love them and all they had done, something in the way a cruel father is still loved by
the children who are wounded by his selfish hands. The white lite undertook to manufacture a Native
lite. They picked promising youths, they made them drink the fire-water principles of capitalism and
of Western culture; they educated the Indian out of them, and their heads were filled and their mouths
were stuffed with smart-sounding hypocrisies, grand greedy words that stuck in their throats but
which they spit out nonetheless. After a short stay in the university they were sent home to their
reserves or unleashed in the cities, whitewashed. These walking lies had nothing to say to their
brothers and sisters that did not sound false, ugly, and harmful; they only mimicked their masters.
From buildings in Toronto, from Montral, from Vancouver, businessmen would utter the words,
Development! Progress! and somewhere on a reserve lips would open . . . opment! . . . gress!
The Natives were complacent and compliant; it was a rich time for the white lite.
Then things changed. The mouths of Natives started opening by themselves; brown voices still
spoke of the whites law, democracy, and liberal humanism, but only to reproach them for their
unfairness and inhumanity. White lites listened without displeasure to these polite statements of
resentment and reproach, these pleas for reconciliation, with apparent satisfaction. See? Just like we
taught them, they are able to talk in proper English without the help of a priest or of an anthropologist.
Just look at what we have made of the backward savagesthey sound like lawyers! Whites did not
doubt that the Natives would accept their ideals, since the Natives accused the whites of not being
faithful to them. Settlers could still believe in the sanctity of their divine civilizing mission; they had
Europeanized the Natives, they had created a new kind of Native, the assimilated Aboriginal. The
white lites took this all in and whispered, quiet between themselves over dinner, as good
progressive persons of the (post)modern world: Let them cry and complain; its just therapy and
worth the expense. Its better than giving the land back!
Now the sham is coming to an end. Native thinkers and leaders are coming on the scene intent on
changing things, entirely. With the last stores of our patience, Native writers, musicians, and
philosophers are trying to explain to settlers that their values and the true facts of their existence are
at great odds, and that the Native can never be completely erased or totally assimilated. This New
Indigenous Intelligentsia is trying to get settlers to understand that colonialism must and will be
confronted and destroyed. It is not 1947; were not talking about reforming the Indian Act so that we
can become little municipalities. It is not 1982; were not talking about going to court to explore
empty constitutional promises.
It is the twenty-first century. Listen: what is treated in the Canadian discourse of reconciliation as
an unhealthy and debilitating incapacity to forgive and move on is actually a sign of a critical
consciousness, of our sense of justice and injustice, and of our awareness of and unwillingness to

reconcile. Coulthard is talking about rising up, Seeing Red, about resurgence and the politics of
authentic self-affirmation. This is a call to combat contemporary colonialisms objectification and
alienation and manipulation of our true selves. He understands that in Canada today settlement of
conflict means putting the past behind us, a willful forgetting of the crimes that have stained the
psyche of this country for so long, a conspiracy of collective ignorance, turning a blind eye to the
ongoing crimes of theft, fraud, and abuse against the original people of the land that are still the
unacceptable everyday reality in Canada. So how could we settle and accept and not question and
challenge the naturalized injustice that frames and shapes and gives character to our lives? There is
nothing natural about the dominance of white people on the North American continent and the removal
and erasure of our people, our laws, and our cultures from our homelands.
Glen Coulthard is a leading voice of the new Indigenous Intelligentsia, and he has accomplished so
much with this book. To have rescued Karl Marx from his nineteenth-century hostage chamber in that
room in the British Library and to expose him to the full breadth of history and the light of the human
landscape was enough to make this a great work of political theory. Hes gone beyond that
accomplishment in correcting Jean-Paul Sartres and Frantz Fanons narrow visionsomething you
have to excuse them for given they were doing philosophy while in the midst of a ferocious physical
fightand brought Marx and Sartre and Fanon together with his Dene Elders and me and you, Reader,
to show us all how our psycho-affective attachments to colonialism are blocking the achievement of a
just society. As such, this book is a profound critique of contemporary colonialism, and clear vision
of Indigenous resurgence, and a serious contribution to the literature of freedom.

The research and writing of Red Skin, White Masks would not have been possible without the insight
and guidance offered by many friends and colleagues. The unwavering support and intellectual
guidance provided by professors James Tully and Taiaiake Alfred warrant special mention. If there
are any insights to be gleaned from Red Skin, White Masks, its due in large part to the support I
received from these two outstanding scholars. I consider both of them to be friends and mentors of the
highest order.
I would also like to thank the many people I have met over the years who have influenced my
thinking in innumerable ways. In particular, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my close
friends and esteemed colleagues Dory Nason, John Munro, Robert Nichols, Jakeet Singh, and Rita
Dhamoon. Your thoughtful comments on various incarnations of this project have been invaluable.
You have all been crucial to my intellectual and personal development in ways that I cannot possibly
express here.
There are, of course, many others whose words of encouragement and support have indelibly
shaped this book. In particular, I would like to start by acknowledging my friends and colleagues in
the First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia: Dory Nason, Sheryl
Lightfoot, Daniel Justice, Linc Kesler, (the forthcoming) Johnny Mack, Janey Lew, Jie Ie Baik,
Hannah Butson, and Tanya Bob. I look forward to many more conversations in the future.
Special thanks are also due to my editor, Jason Weidemann, at the University of Minnesota Press,
as well as the series editor for Indigenous Americas, Robert Warrior. Your collective support for this
project struck the perfect balance between persistence and compassion.
Credit is also due to the many illuminating conversations I have had over the years with these
brilliant interlocutors: Erin Freeland Ballantyne, Leanne Simpson, Audra Simpson, Andy Smith, J. P.
Fulford, Duncan Ivison, Melissa Williams, Jeff Corntassel, Michael Asch, Avigail Eisenberg, Jeremy
Webber, Chris Andersen, Peter Kulchyski, Paul Patton, Kevin Bruyneel, Richard Day, Harsha Walia,
David Dennis, Cliff Atleo, Ivan Drury, Elizabeth Povinelli, Laura Janara, Barbara Arneil, Bruce
Baum, Jeffery Webber, Nikolas Kompridis, Brad Brian, Sylvia Federici, Andrej Grubacic, Dylan
Rodriguez, Brendan Hokowhitu, Vince Diaz, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Francois Paulette, Stephen
Kakfwi, Kyla Kakfwi Scott, Amos Scott, Melaw Nakehko, Modeste and Therese Sangris, Toby
Rollo, Am Johal, Shyla Seller, Matt Hern, Geoff Mann, Mike Krebs, Denise Ferreira Da Silva, Scott
Morgensen, Shiri Pasternak, Chris Finley, Arthur Manuel, Val Napoleon, Mandee McDonald, Siku
Allooloo, Nina Larrson, and Jarrett Martineau.
A shout-out is also due to my students at the University of British Columbia and elsewhere. Thanks
to Kelsey Wrightson and Matthew Wildcat for the care they put into helping prepare the text, both
intellectually and physically, for publication. I have also learned so much from my conversations in
and outside of the classroom with Daniel Voth, Jessica Rosinski, Derek Kornelsen, Jessica
Hallenbeck, Dawn Hoogeveen, Kelly Aguirre, and Charlotte Kingston.
Finally, I could not have completed this project without the love and support of Amanda Dowling;
our children, Hayden and Tulita Dowling-Coulthard; and my mother, Christine Coulthard. This book
is for all of you.
I dedicate Red Skin, White Masks to the loving memory of my father, Richard Park Coulthard

(19422012). I miss you more than words can say. Mahsi cho!

Subjects of Empire

Real recognition of our presence and humanity would require a genuine reconsideration of so many peoples role in
North American society that it would amount to a genuine leap of imagination.
George Manuel and Michael Posluns, The Fourth World

From Wards of the State to Subjects of Recognition?

Over the last forty years, the self-determination efforts and objectives of Indigenous peoples in
Canada have increasingly been cast in the language of recognition.1 Consider, for example, the
formative declaration issued by my people in 1975:
We the Dene of the NWT [Northwest Territories] insist on the right to be
regarded by ourselves and the world as a nation.
Our struggle is for the recognition of the Dene Nation by the Government and
people of Canada and the peoples and governments of the world. . . .
And while there are realities we are forced to submit to, such as the existence
of a country called Canada, we insist on the right to self-determination and the
recognition of the Dene Nation.2
Now fast-forward to the 2005 policy position on self-determination issued by Canadas largest
Aboriginal organization, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). According to the AFN, a consensus
has emerged . . . around a vision of the relationship between First Nations and Canada which would
lead to strengthening recognition and implementation of First Nations governments.3 This vision,
the AFN goes on to explain, draws on the core principles outlined in the 1996 Report of the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP): that is, recognition of the nation-to-nation relationship
between First Nations and the Crown; recognition of the equal right of First Nations to selfdetermination; recognition of the Crowns fiduciary obligation to protect Aboriginal treaty rights;
recognition of First Nations inherent right to self-government; and recognition of the right of First
Nations to economically benefit from the use and development of their lands and resources.4 Since
2005 the AFN has consistently reasserted and affirmed these guiding principles at its Annual General
Assemblies and in the numerous resolutions that these gatherings have produced.
These demands have not been easy to ignore. Because of the persistence and dedication of
countless Indigenous activists, leaders, communities, and organizations, we have witnessed within the
scope of four decades the emergence of an unprecedented degree of recognition for Aboriginal
cultural rights within the legal and political framework of the Canadian state.5 Most significant on
this front was Canadas eventual recognition of existing aboriginal and treaty rights under section
35(1) of the Constitution Act of 1982. This constitutional breakthrough provided the catalyst that led

to the federal governments eventual recognition, in 1995, of an inherent right to self-government,6

as well as the groundswell of post-1982 court challenges that have sought to both clarify and widen
the scope of what constitutes a constitutionally rec ognized Aboriginal right to begin with. When
considered from the vantage point of these important developments, it would certainly appear that
recognition has emerged as the dominant expression of self-determination within the Aboriginal
rights movement in Canada.
The struggle for recognition has become a central catalyst in the international Indigenous rights
movement as well. As the works of Will Kymlicka, Sheryl Lightfoot, Ronald Neizen, and others have
noted, the last three decades have witnessed the emergence of recognition-based approaches to
Indigenous self-determination in the field of Indigenousstate relations in Asia, northern Europe,
throughout the Americas, and across the South Pacific (including Australia, New Zealand, and the
Pacific Islands).7 Although varying in institutional scope and scale, all of these geopolitical regions
have seen the establishment of Indigenous rights regimes that claim to recognize and accommodate the
political autonomy, land rights, and cultural distinctiveness of Indigenous nations within the settler
states that now encase them. Although my primary empirical focus in Red Skin, White Masks is
Canada, I suspect that readers will find many of my conclusions applicable to settler-colonial
experiences elsewhere.
On a more discursive plane, the increase in recognition demands made by Indigenous and other
marginalized minorities over the last forty years has also prompted a flurry of intellectual activity that
has sought to unpack the complex ethical, political, and legal questions that these types of claims
raise. To date, much of this literature has tended to focus on a perceived relationship between the
affirmative recognition and institutional accommodation of societal cultural differences on the one
hand, and the freedom and autonomy of marginalized individuals and groups living in ethnically
diverse states on the other. In Canada it has been argued that this synthesis of theory and practice has
forced the state to dramatically reconceptualize the tenets of its relationship with Indigenous peoples;
whereas before 1969 federal Indian policy was unapologetically assimilationist, now it is couched in
the vernacular of mutual recognition.8
In the following chapters I critically engage a multiplicity of diverse anti-imperialist traditions and
practices to challenge the increasingly commonplace idea that the colonial relationship between
Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state can be adequately transformed via such a politics of
recognition. Following the work of Richard J. F. Day, I take politics of recognition to refer to the
now expansive range of recognition-based models of liberal pluralism that seek to reconcile
Indigenous assertions of nationhood with settler-state sovereignty via the accommodation of
Indigenous identity claims in some form of renewed legal and political relationship with the Canadian
state.9 Although these models tend to vary in both theory and practice, most call for the delegation of
land, capital, and political power from the state to Indigenous communities through a combination of
land claim settlements, economic development initiatives, and self-government agreements. These are
subsequently the three broad contexts through which I examine the theory and practice of Indigenous
recognition politics in the following chapters. Against this variant of the recognition approach, I argue
that instead of ushering in an era of peaceful coexistence grounded on the ideal of reciprocity or
mutual recognition, the politics of recognition in its contemporary liberal form promises to reproduce
the very configurations of colonialist, racist, patriarchal state power that Indigenous peoples
demands for recognition have historically sought to transcend.
To demonstrate the above claim, Red Skin, White Masks will theoretically and empirically map the

contours of what I consider to be a decisive shift in the modus operandi of colonial power following
the hegemonization of the recognition paradigm following the release of the federal governments
infamous Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policyalso known as the White
Paperin 1969.10 In the two centuries leading to this historic policy proposalwhich called for the
blanket assimilation of the status Indian population by unilaterally removing all institutionally
enshrined aspects of legal and political differentiation that distinguish First Nations from non-Native
Canadians under the Indian Actthe reproduction of the colonial relationship between Indigenous
peoples and what would eventually become Canada depended heavily on the deployment of state
power geared around genocidal practices of forced exclusion and assimilation.11 Any cursory
examination into the character of colonial Indian policy during this period will attest to this fact. For
example, this era witnessed Canadas repeated attempts to overtly uproot and destroy the vitality and
autonomy of Indigenous modes of life through institutions such as residential schools;12 through the
imposition of settler-state policies aimed at explicitly undercutting Indigenous political economies
and relations to and with land;13 through the violent dispossession of First Nation womens rights to
land and community membership under sexist provisions of the Indian Act;14 through the theft of
Aboriginal children via racist child welfare policies;15 and through the near wholesale dispossession
of Indigenous peoples territories and modes of traditional governance in exchange for delegated
administrative powers to be exercised over relatively minuscule reserve lands. All of these policies
sought to marginalize Indigenous people and communities with the ultimate goal being our
elimination, if not physically, then as cultural, political, and legal peoples distinguishable from the
rest of Canadian society.16 These initiatives reflect the more or less unconcealed, unilateral, and
coercive nature of colonial rule during most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Although Indigenous people and communities have always found ways to individually and
collectively resist these oppressive policies and practices, it was not until the tumultuous political
climate of Red Power activism in the 1960s and 70s that policies geared toward the recognition and
so-called reconciliation of Native land and political grievances with state sovereignty began to
appear. Three watershed events are generally recognized as shaping this era of Native activism in
Canada. The first was the materialization of widespread First Nation opposition to the previously
mentioned 1969 White Paper. Instead of serving as a bridge to passive assimilation, the White Paper
inaugurated an unprecedented degree of pan-Indian assertiveness and political mobilization. The
National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) issued the following response to
the federal governments proposed initiative: We view this as a policy designed to divest us of our
aboriginal . . . rights. If we accept this policy, and in the process lose our rights and our lands, we
become willing partners in cultural genocide. This we cannot do.17 Although designed as a onceand-for-all solution to Canadas so-called Indian Problem, the White Paper instead became a
central catalyst around which the contemporary Indigenous self-determination movement coalesced,
launching it into a determined [defense] of a unique cultural heritage and identity.18 The sheer
magnitude of First Nations resistance to the White Paper proposal forced the federal government to
formally shelve the document on March 17, 1971.19
The second watershed event occurred following the partial recognition of Aboriginal title in the
Supreme Court of Canadas 1973 Calder decision.20 This landmark case, which involved a claim
launched by Nisgaa hereditary chief Frank Calder to the un-extinguished territories of his nation in
northwestern British Columbia, overturned a seventy-five-year precedent first established in St

Catherines Milling and Lumber Company v. The Queen (1888), which stated that Aboriginal land
rights existed only insofar and to the extent that the state recognized them as such.21 Although
technically a defeat for the Nisgaa, the six justices that rendered substantive decisions in Calder all
agreed that, prior to contact, the Nisgaa indeed held the land rights they claimed in court.22 The
question then quickly shifted to whether these rights were sufficiently extinguished through colonial
legislation. In the end, three justices ruled that the Aboriginal rights in question had not been
extinguished, three ruled that they had, and one justice ruled against the Nisgaa based on a technical
question regarding whether this type of action could be levelled against the province without
legislation permitting it, which he ruled could not.23 Thus, even though the Nisgaa technically lost
their case in a 43 decision, the Supreme Courts ruling in Calder left enough uncertainty around the
question of existing Aboriginal rights that it prompted a shift in the federal governments policy vis-vis Native land interests. The result was the federal governments 1973 Statement on Claims of
Indian and Inuit People: A Federal Native Claims Policy, which effectively reversed fifty-two
years (since the 1921 signing of Treaty 11 in the Northwest Territories with the Sahtu Dene) of state
refusal to recognize Indigenous claims to land where the question of existing title remained open.24
The third event (or rather cluster of events) emerged following the turbulent decade of energy
politics that followed the oil crisis of the early 1970s, which subsequently fueled an aggressive push
by state and industry to develop what it saw as the largely untapped resource potential (natural gas,
minerals, and oil) of northern Canada.25 The federal governments holding of 45 percent equity in
Panartic Oils led Indian Affairs minister Jean Chrtien to state that it is very seldom in public life
that a minister of a government presides over that kind of profit.26 The proposed increase in northern
development was envisioned despite concerns raised by the Mtis, Dene, and Inuit of the Northwest
Territories regarding Canadas proposal to sanction the development of a huge natural gas pipeline to
be carved across the heartland of our traditional territories, as well as the resistance mounted by the
Cree of northern Quebec against a similarly massive hydroelectric project proposed for their
homeland in the James Bay region.27 The effectiveness of our subsequent political struggles, which
gained unprecedented media coverage across the country, once again raised the issue of unresolved
Native rights and title issues to the fore of Canadian public consciousness.
In the following chapters I will show that colonial rule underwent a profound shift in the wake of
these important events. More specifically, I argue that the expression of Indigenous anticolonial
nationalism that emerged during this period forced colonial power to modify itself from a structure
that was once primarily reinforced by policies, techniques, and ideologies explicitly oriented around
the genocidal exclusion/assimilation double, to one that is now reproduced through a seemingly more
conciliatory set of discourses and institutional practices that emphasize our recognition and
accommodation. Regardless of this modification, however, the relationship between Indigenous
peoples and the state has remained colonial to its foundation.

Karl Marx, Settler-Colonialism, and Indigenous Dispossession in

PostWhite Paper Canada
What do I mean by a colonialor more precisely, settler-colonial relationship? A settler-colonial
relationship is one characterized by a particular form of domination; that is, it is a relationship where
powerin this case, interrelated discursive and nondiscursive facets of economic, gendered, racial,

and state powerhas been structured into a relatively secure or sedimented set of hierarchical social
relations that continue to facilitate the dispossession of Indigenous peoples of their lands and selfdetermining authority. In this respect, Canada is no different from most other settler-colonial powers:
in the Canadian context, colonial domination continues to be structurally committed to maintain
through force, fraud, and more recently, so-called negotiationsongoing state access to the land
and resources that contradictorily provide the material and spiritual sustenance of Indigenous
societies on the one hand, and the foundation of colonial state-formation, settlement, and capitalist
development on the other. As Patrick Wolfe states, Whatever settlers may sayand they generally
have a lot to saythe primary motive [of settler-colonialism] is not race (or religion, ethnicity, grade
of civilization, etc.) but access to territory. Territoriality is settler colonialisms specific, irreducible
In thinking about colonialism as a form of structured dispossession, I have found it useful to return
to a cluster of insights developed by Karl Marx in chapters 26 through 32 of his first volume of
Capital.29 This section of Capital is crucial because it is there that Marx most thoroughly links the
totalizing power of capital with that of colonialism by way of his theory of primitive accumulation.
Challenging the idyllic portrayal of capitalisms origins by economists like Adam Smith, Marxs
chapters on primitive accumulation highlight the gruesomely violent nature of the transition from
feudal to capitalist social relations in western Europe (with an emphasis placed on England). Marxs
historical excavation of the birth of the capitalist mode of production identifies a host of colonial-like
state practices that served to violently stripthrough conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder30
noncapitalist producers, communities, and societies from their means of production and subsistence.
In Capital these formative acts of violent dispossession set the stage for the emergence of capitalist
accumulation and the reproduction of capitalist relations of production by tearing Indigenous
societies, peasants, and other small-scale, self-sufficient agricultural producers from the source of
their livelihoodthe land. It was this horrific process that established the two necessary
preconditions underwriting the capital relation itself: it forcefully opened up what were once
collectively held territories and resources to privatization (dispossession and enclosure), which, over
time, came to produce a class of workers compelled to enter the exploitative realm of the labor
market for their survival (proletarianization). The historical process of primitive accumulation thus
refers to the violent transformation of noncapitalist forms of life into capitalist ones.
The critical purchase of Marxs primitive accumulation thesis for analyzing the relationship
between colonial rule and capitalist accumulation in the contemporary period has been the subject of
much debate over the last couple of decades. Within and between the fields of Indigenous studies and
Marxist political economy, these debates have at times been hostile and polarizing. At its worst, this
hostility has led to the premature rejection of Marx and Marxism by some Indigenous studies scholars
on the one side, and to the belligerent, often ignorant, and sometimes racist dismissal of Indigenous
peoples contributions to radical thought and politics by Marxists on the other.31 At their nondogmatic
best, however, I believe that the conversations that continue to occur within and between these two
diverse fields of critical inquiry (especially when placed in dialog with feminist, anarchist, queer,
and postcolonial traditions) have the potential to shed much insight into the cycles of colonial
domination and resistance that characterize the relationship between white settler states and
Indigenous peoples.
To my mind, then, for Indigenous peoples to reject or ignore the insights of Marx would be a
mistake, especially if this amounts to a refusal on our part to critically engage his important critique

of capitalist exploitation and his extensive writings on the entangled relationship between capitalism
and colonialism. As Tsimshian anthropologist Charles Menzies writes, Marxism retains an incisive
core that helps understand the dynamics of the world we live. It highlights the ways in which power
is structured through ownership and exposes the states role in the accumulation of capital and the
redistribution of wealth from the many to the few.32 All of this is not to suggest, however, that Marxs
contributions are without flaw; nor is it meant to suggest that Marxism provides a ready-made tool for
Indigenous peoples to uncritically appropriate in their struggles for land and freedom. As suggested
above, rendering Marxs theoretical frame relevant to a comprehensive understanding of settlercolonialism and Indigenous resistance requires that it be transformed in conversation with the critical
thought and practices of Indigenous peoples themselves. In the spirit of fostering this critical dialog, I
suggest that three problematic features of Marxs primitive accumulation thesis are in need of such a
The first feature involves what many critics have characterized as Marxs rigidly temporal framing
of the phenomenon. As early as 1899, for example, anarchist geographer Peter Kropotkin made note
of what seemed to be an erroneous division drawn in Marx between the primary [or primitive]
accumulation of capital and its present day formulation.33 The critical point here, which many
contemporary writers have subsequently picked up on, is that Marx tended to portray primitive
accumulation as if it constituted a process confined to a particular (if indefinite) periodone
already largely passed in England, but still underway in the colonies at the time Marx wrote.34 For
Marx, although the era of violent, state dispossession may have inaugurated the accumulation
process, in the end it is the silent compulsion of economic relations that ultimately sets the seal on
the domination of the capitalist over the worker.35 This formulation, however, clearly does not
conform well to our present global reality. As the recent work of scholars as diverse as David
Harvey, Silvia Federici, Taiaiake Alfred, Rauna Kuokkanen, and Andrea Smith (to name but a few)
have highlighted, the escalating onslaught of violent, state-orchestrated enclosures following
neoliberalisms ascent to hegemony has unmistakably demonstrated the persistent role that
unconcealed, violent dispossession continues to play in the reproduction of colonial and capitalist
social relations in both the domestic and global contexts.36
The second feature that needs to be addressed concerns the normative developmentalism that
problematically underscored Marxs original formulation of the primitive accumulation thesis. I
stress original here because Marx began to reformulate this teleological aspect of his thought in the
last decade of his life, and this reformulation has important implications with respect to how we
ought to conceptualize the struggles of non-Western societies against the violence that has defined our
encounter with colonial modernity. For much of his career, however, Marx propagated within his
writings a typically nineteenth-century modernist view of history and historical progress. This
developmentalist ontology provided the overarching frame from which thinkers as diverse as
Immanuel Kant, Georg W. F. Hegel, John Stuart Mill, and Adam Smith sought to unpack and
historically rank variation in human cultural forms and modes of production according to each
forms approximation to the full development of the human good.37 As Michael Hardt and Antonio
Negri point out, this modernist commitment often led Marx (along with Engels) to depict those nonWestern societies deemed to be positioned at the lower end of this scale of historical or cultural
development as people without history, existing separate from the development of capital and
locked in an immutable present without the capacity for historical innovation.38 As a result, Marxs
most influential work tends to not only portray primitive accumulation as a historical phenomenon in

the sense that it constituted a prior or transitional stage in the development of the capitalist mode of
production, but that it was also a historically inevitable process that would ultimately have a
beneficial effect on those violently drawn into the capitalist circuit. Take, for instance, Marxs often
quoted 1853 New York Tribune writings on colonial rule in India. There he suggests that, although
vile and barbaric in practice, colonial dispossession would nonetheless have the revolutionary
effect of bringing the despotic, undignified, and stagnant life of the Indians into the fold of
capitalist-modernity and thus onto the one true path of human developmentsocialism.39 Just as
Hegel had infamously asserted before him that Africa exists at the threshold of World History with
no movement or development to exhibit, Marx would similarly come to declare that Indian society
has no history at all, at least no known history.40 Clearly, any analysis or critique of contemporary
settler-colonialism must be stripped of this Eurocentric feature of Marxs original historical
But this still raises the question of how to address this residual feature of Marxs analysis. For our
purposes here, I suggest that this can most effectively be accomplished by contextually shifting our
investigation from an emphasis on the capital relation to the colonial relation. As suggested in his
critical appraisal of Edward G. Wakefields 1849 text, A View of the Art of Colonization, Marx was
primarily interested in colonialism because it exposed some truth about the nature of capitalism.42
His interest in the specific character of colonial domination was largely incidental. This is clearly
evident in his position on primitive accumulation. As noted already, primitive accumulation involved
a dual process for Marx: the accumulation of capital through violent state dispossession resulting in
proletarianization. The weight given to these constituent elements, however, is by no means equal in
Marx. As he explicitly states in chapter 33 of Capital, Marx had little interest in the condition of the
colonies as such; rather, what caught his attention was the secret discovered in the New World by
the political economy of the Old World, and loudly proclaimed by it: that the capitalist mode of
production and accumulation, and therefore capitalist private property as well, have for their
fundamental condition the . . . expropriation of the worker (emphasis added).43 When examined
from this angle, colonial dispossession appears to constitute an appropriate object of critique and
analysis only insofar as it unlocks the key to understanding the nature of capitalism: that capital is not
a thing, but rather a social relation dependent on the perpetual separation of workers from the
means of production.44 This was obviously Marxs primary concern, and it has subsequently remained
the dominant concern of the Marxist tradition as a whole.45 The contextual shift advocated here, by
contrast, takes as its analytical frame the subject position of the colonized vis--vis the effects of
colonial dispossession, rather than from the primary position of the waged male proletariat [in] the
process of commodity production,46 to borrow Silvia Federicis useful formulation.
At least four critical insights into our settler-colonial present emerge from the resolution of these
first two problems. First, by making the contextual shift in analysis from the capital-relation to the
colonial-relation the inherent injustice of colonial rule is posited on its own terms and in its own
right. By repositioning the colonial frame as our overarching lens of analysis it becomes far more
difficult to justify in antiquated developmental terms (from either the right or the left) the assimilation
of noncapitalist, non-Western, Indigenous modes of life based on the racist assumption that this
assimilation will somehow magically redeem itself by bringing the fruits of capitalist modernity into
the supposedly backward world of the colonized.47 In a certain respect, this was also the guiding
insight that eventually led Marx to reformulate his theory after 1871. Subsequently, in the last decade
of his life, Marx no longer condemns non-Western and noncapitalist social formations to necessarily

pass through the destructive phase of capitalist development as the condition of possibility for human
freedom and flourishing. During this period, Marx had not only come to view more clearly how
certain features of noncapitalist and capitalist modes of production articulate (albeit
asymmetrically) in a given social formation, but also the ways in which aspects of the former can
come to inform the construction of radical alternatives to the latter.48
A similar insight informed Kropotkins early critique of Marx as well. The problem for Kropotkin
was that Marx not only drew an erroneous division between the history of state dispossession and
what has proven to be its persistent role in the accumulation process, but that this also seemed to
justify in crude developmentalist terms the violent dispossession of place-based, non-state modes of
self-sufficient Indigenous economic, political, and social activity, only this time to be carried out
under the auspices of the coercive authority of socialist states. This form of dispossession would
eventually come to be championed by Soviet imperialists under the banner socialist primitive
accumulation.49 I suggest that by shifting our analytical frame to the colonial relation we might
occupy a better angle from which to both anticipate and interrogate practices of settler-state
dispossession justified under otherwise egalitarian principles and espoused with so-called
progressive political agendas in mind. Instead, what must be recognized by those inclined to
advocate a blanket return of the commons as a redistributive counterstrategy to the neoliberal
states new round of enclosures, is that, in liberal settler states such as Canada, the commons not
only belong to somebodythe First Peoples of this landthey also deeply inform and sustain
Indigenous modes of thought and behavior that harbor profound insights into the maintenance of
relationships within and between human beings and the natural world built on principles of
reciprocity, nonexploitation and respectful coexistence. By ignoring or downplaying the injustice of
colonial dispossession, critical theory and left political strategy not only risks becoming complicit in
the very structures and processes of domination that it ought to oppose, but it also risks overlooking
what could prove to be invaluable glimpses into the ethical practices and preconditions required for
the construction of a more just and sustainable world order.
The second insight facilitated by this contextual shift has to do with the role played by Indigenous
labor in the historical process of colonial-capital accumulation in Canada. It is now generally
acknowledged among historians and political economists that following the waves of colonial
settlement that marked the transition between mercantile and industrial capitalism (roughly spanning
the years 18601914, but with significant variation between geographical regions), Native labor
became increasingly (although by no means entirely) superfluous to the political and economic
development of the Canadian state.50 Increased European settlement combined with an imported,
hyperexploited non-European workforce meant that, in the postfur trade period, Canadian stateformation and colonial-capitalist development required first and foremost land, and only secondarily
the surplus value afforded by cheap, Indigenous labor.51 This is not to suggest, however, that the longterm goal of indoctrinating the Indigenous population to the principles of private property, possessive
individualism, and menial wage work did not constitute an important feature of Canadian Indian
policy. It did. As the commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1890 wrote: The work of sub-dividing
reserves has begun in earnest. The policy of destroying the tribal or communist system is assailed in
every possible way and every effort [has been] made to implant a spirit of individual responsibility
When this historical consideration is situated alongside the contemporary fact that there has been,
first, a steady increase in Native migration to urban centers over the last few decades, and, second,

that many First Nation communities are situated on or near lands coveted by the resource exploitation
industry, it is reasonable to conclude that disciplining Indigenous life to the cold rationality of market
principles will remain on state and industrys agenda for some time to follow.53 In this respect Marxs
thesis still stands. What I want to point out, rather, is that when related back to the primitive
accumulation thesis it appears that the history and experience of dispossession, not proletarianization,
has been the dominant background structure shaping the character of the historical relationship
between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. Just as importantly, I would also argue that
dispossession continues to inform the dominant modes of Indigenous resistance and critique that this
relationship has provoked. Stated bluntly, the theory and practice of Indigenous anticolonialism,
including Indigenous anticapitalism, is best understood as a struggle primarily inspired by and
oriented around the question of land a struggle not only for land in the material sense, but also
deeply informed by what the land as system of reciprocal relations and obligations can teach us
about living our lives in relation to one another and the natural world in nondominating and
nonexploitative termsand less around our emergent status as rightless proletarians.54 I call this
place-based foundation of Indigenous decolonial thought and practice grounded normativity, by
which I mean the modalities of Indigenous land-connected practices and longstanding experiential
knowledge that inform and structure our ethical engagements with the world and our relationships
with human and nonhuman others over time.
The third insight to flow from this contextual shift corresponds to a number of concerns expressed
by Indigenous peoples, deep ecologists, defenders of animal rights, and other advocates of
environmental sustainability regarding perceived anti-ecological tendencies in Marxs work.
Although this field of criticism tends to be internally diverseand some have argued, overstated (I
am thinking here of eco-socialists like Joel Kovel and John Bellamy Foster)at its core it suggests
that Marxs perspectives on nature adhered to an instrumental rationality that placed no intrinsic value
on the land or nature itself, and that this subsequently led him to uncritically champion an ideology of
productivism and unsustainable economic progress.55 From the vantage point of the capital
relationshipwhich, I have argued, tends to concern itself most with the adverse structural and
ideological effects stemming from expropriated laborland is not exploitable, people are. I believe
that reestablishing the colonial relation of dispossession as a co-foundational feature of our
understanding of and critical engagement with capitalism opens up the possibility of developing a
more ecologically attentive critique of colonial-capitalist accumulation, especially if this engagement
takes its cues from the grounded normativity of Indigenous modalities of place-based resistance and
And finally, the fourth insight that flows from the contextual shift advocated here involves what
many have characterized as Marxs (and orthodox Marxisms) economic reductionism. It should be
clear in the following pages that there is much more at play in the contemporary reproduction of
settler-colonial social relations than capitalist economics; most notably, the host of interrelated yet
semi-autonomous facets of discursive and nondiscursive power briefly identified earlier. Although it
is beyond question that the predatory nature of capitalism continues to play a vital role in facilitating
the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples in Canada, it is necessary to recognize that it only
does so in relation to or in concert with axes of exploitation and domination configured along racial,
gender, and state lines. Given the resilience of these equally devastating modalities of power, I argue
that any strategy geared toward authentic decolonization must directly confront more than mere
economic relations; it has to account for the multifarious ways in which capitalism, patriarchy, white

supremacy, and the totalizing character of state power interact with one another to form the
constellation of power relations that sustain colonial patterns of behavior, structures, and
relationships. I suggest that shifting our attention to the colonial frame is one way to facilitate this
form of radical intersectional analysis.56 Seen from this light, the colonial relation should not be
understood as a primary locus or base from which these other forms of oppression flow, but rather
as the inherited background field within which market, racist, patriarchal, and state relations
converge to facilitate a certain power effectin our case, the reproduction of hierarchical social
relations that facilitate the dispossession of our lands and self-determining capacities. Like capital,
colonialism, as a structure of domination predicated on dispossession, is not a thing, but rather the
sum effect of the diversity of interlocking oppressive social relations that constitute it. When stated
this way, it should be clear that shifting our position to highlight the ongoing effects of colonial
dispossession in no way displaces questions of distributive justice or class struggle; rather, it simply
situates these questions more firmly alongside and in relation to the other sites and relations of power
that inform our settler-colonial present.
With these four insights noted, I can now turn to the third and final feature that needs to be
addressed with respect to Marxs primitive accumulation thesis. This one, which constitutes the core
theoretical intervention of this book, brings us back to my original claim that, in the Canadian context,
colonial relations of power are no longer reproduced primarily through overtly coercive means, but
rather through the asymmetrical exchange of mediated forms of state recognition and accommodation.
This is obviously quite different from the story Marx tells, where the driving force behind
dispossession and accumulation is initially that of violence: it is a relationship of brute force, of
servitude, whose methods, Marx claims, are anything but idyllic.57 The strategic deployment of
violent sovereign power, then, serves the primary reproductive function in the accumulation process
in Marxs writings on colonialism. As Marx himself bluntly put it, these gruesome state practices are
what thrust capitalism onto the world stage, dripping from head to toe, from every pore, in blood and
The question that needs to be asked in our context, however, and the question to which I provide an
answer in the following chapters, is this: what are we to make of contexts where state violence no
longer constitutes the regulative norm governing the process of colonial dispossession, as appears to
be the case in ostensibly tolerant, multinational, liberal settler polities such as Canada?59 Stated in
Marxs own terms, if neither blood and fire nor the silent compulsion of capitalist economics can
adequately account for the reproduction of colonial hierarchies in liberal democratic contexts, what

Frantz Fanon and the Politics of Recognition in Colonial Contexts

To elucidate precisely how colonial rule made the transition from a more-or-less unconcealed
structure of domination to a mode of colonial governmentality that works through the limited
freedoms afforded by state recognition and accommodation, I will be drawing significantly (but not
exclusively) on the work of anticolonial theorist, psychiatrist, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon.60 At
first blush, turning to Fanon to develop an understanding of the regulating mechanisms undergirding
settler-colonial rule in contexts where state violence no longer constitutes the norm governing the
process might seem a bit odd to those familiar with his work. After all, Fanon is arguably best known
for the articulation of colonialism he develops in The Wretched of the Earth, where colonial rule is

posited, much like Marx posited it before him, as a structure of dominance maintained through
unrelenting and punishing forms of violence. In colonial regions, writes Fanon, the state uses a
language of pure violence. [It] does not alleviate oppression or mask domination. Instead, the
proximity and frequent, direct intervention by the police and military ensure the colonized are kept
under close scrutiny, and contained by rifle butts and napalm (emphasis added).61 And considering
Fanon wrote The Wretched of the Earth during one of the twentieth centurys most gruesome
anticolonial strugglesthe Algerian war of independence (195462)it is not surprising that he
placed so much emphasis on colonialisms openly coercive and violent features. Given the severe
nature of the colonial situation within which The Wretched of the Earth was produced one could
argue that the diagnosis and prescriptions outlined in the text were tragically appropriate to the
context they set out to address.
But this simply is not the case in contemporary Canada, and for this reason I begin my investigation
with a sustained engagement with Fanons earlier work, Black Skin, White Masks. As we shall see in
the following chapter, it is there that Fanon offers a groundbreaking critical analysis of the affirmative
relationship drawn between recognition and freedom in the master/slave dialectic of Hegels
Phenomenology of Spirita critique I claim is equally applicable to contemporary liberal
recognition-based approaches to Indigenous self-determination in Canada.62 Fanons analysis suggests
that in contexts where colonial rule is not reproduced through force alone, the maintenance of settlerstate hegemony requires the production of what he liked to call colonized subjects: namely, the
production of the specific modes of colonial thought, desire, and behavior that implicitly or explicitly
commit the colonized to the types of practices and subject positions that are required for their
continued domination. However, unlike the liberalized appropriation of Hegel that continues to
inform many contemporary proponents of identity politics, in Fanon recognition is not posited as a
source of freedom and dignity for the colonized, but rather as the field of power through which
colonial relations are produced and maintained. This is the form of recognition, Fanon suggests,
that Hegel never described.63 Subsequently, this is also the form of recognition that I set out to
interrogate in Red Skin, White Masks.

Outline of the Book

With these preliminary remarks made, I will now provide a brief outline of the structure and chapter
breakdown of the book. In chapter 1, I use Frantz Fanons critique of Hegels master/slave dialectic
to challenge the now commonplace assumption that the structure of domination that frames
Indigenousstate relations in Canada can be undermined via a liberal politics of recognition. I begin
my analysis by identifying two Hegelian assumptions that continue to inform the politics of
recognition today. The first, which is now uncontroversial, involves recognitions perceived role in
the constitution of human subjectivity: the notion that our identities are formed intersubjectively
through our complex social interactions with other subjects. As Charles Taylor influentially asserts:
the crucial feature of human life is its fundamentally dialogical character. . . . We define our identity
always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle against, the things our significant others acknowledge
in us.64 The second, more contentious assumption suggests that the specific structural or
interpersonal character of our relations of recognition can have a positive (when mutual and
affirmative) or detrimental (when unequal and disparaging) effect on our status as free and selfdetermining agents. I draw off Fanons work to partially challenge this second assumption by

demonstrating the ways in which the purportedly diversity-affirming forms of state recognition and
accommodation defended by some proponents of contemporary liberal recognition politics can subtly
reproduce nonmutual and unfree relations rather than free and mutual ones. At its core, Fanons
critique of colonial recognition politics can be summarized like this: when delegated exchanges of
recognition occur in real world contexts of domination the terms of accommodation usually end up
being determined by and in the interests of the hegemonic partner in the relationship. This is the
structural problem of colonial recognition identified by Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks. Fanon
then goes on to demonstrate how subaltern populations often develop what he called psychoaffective attachments to these structurally circumscribed modes of recognition. For Fanon, these
ideological attachments are essential in maintaining the economic and political structure of colonial
relationships over time. This is the subjective dimension to the problem of colonial recognition
highlighted in Black Skin, White Masks. With these two interrelated problematics identified, I go on
to conclude the chapter with a brief discussion of an alternative politics of recognition, one that is
less oriented around attaining legal and political recognition by the state, and more about Indigenous
peoples empowering themselves through cultural practices of individual and collective selffashioning that seek to prefigure radical alternatives to the structural and subjective dimensions of
colonial power identified earlier in the chapter. I call this a resurgent politics of recognition and
take it up in more detail in my concluding chapter.
In chapters 2, 3, and 4, I set out to empirically demonstrate the largely theoretical insights that are
derived from my applied use of Fanons critique of Hegels master/slave narrative through three case
studies drawn from the post-1969 history of Indigenousstate relations in Canada. These case studies
will also serve to flesh out in more detail a number of recent debates within the liberal recognition
and identity politics literature, including those that have focused on the following cluster of issues and
The Left-Materialist Challenge
The ascendant status of identity, culture, and recognition in contemporary political struggles
has not emerged without controversy. Critics on the left, for example, have long voiced concern over
what they claim to be the excessively insular and divisive character of many culture-based, identityrelated movements.65 More specifically, they argue that the inherently parochial and particularistic
orientation of recognition-based politics is serving (or worse, has already served) to undermine more
egalitarian and universal aspirations, like those focused on class and directed toward a more
equitable distribution of socioeconomic goods. As Brian Barry explains: Pursuit of the
multiculturalist [recognition] agenda makes the achievement of broadly based egalitarian policies
difficult in two ways. At a minimum it diverts political effort away from universalistic goals. But a
more serious problem is that multiculturalism may very well destroy the conditions for putting
together a coalition in favour of across-the-board equalisation of opportunities and resources.66 In
such contexts it would indeed appear that recognition struggles are serving less to supplement,
complicate and enrich redistribution struggles than to marginalize, eclipse and displace them, as
Nancy Frasers work suggests.67 In short, advocates of the left-materialist critique challenge the
affirmative relationship drawn between recognition and freedom by many defenders of
identity/difference politics on the grounds that such a politics has proven itself incapable of
transforming the generative material conditions that so often work to foreclose the realization of selfdetermination in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Chapter 2 interrogates the above challenge through an examination of the cultural, political, and
economic dynamics that informed the Dene Nations struggle for national recognition and selfdetermination in the 1970s and early 1980s. During this period the Dene Nation was the main
organization representing the political interests of the Dene peoples of the Northwest Territories, of
which my own community is a part (the Yellowknives Dene First Nation). Although sensitive to
certain concerns animating the left-materialist position, I argue that there is nothing intrinsic to the
identity-related struggles of Indigenous peoples that predispose them to the cluster of charges noted
above. To the contrary, I suggest that insofar as Indigenous cultural claims always involve demands
for a more equitable distribution of land, political power, and economic resources, the left-materialist
claim regarding the displacement of economic concerns by cultural ones is misplaced when applied
to settler-colonial contexts.68 However, if one takes a modified version of the displacement thesis and
instead examines the relationship between Indigenous recognition claims and the distinction made by
Nancy Fraser between transformative and affirmative forms of redistribution the criticism begins
to hold more weight.69 For Fraser, transformative models of redistribution are those that aspire to
correct unjust distributions of power and resources at their source, whereas affirmative strategies,
by contrast, strive to alter or modify the second-order effects of these first-order root causes. As we
shall see with the example drawn from my community, the last forty years has witnessed a gradual
erosion of this transformative vision within the mainstream Dene self-determination movement, which
in the context of northern land claims and economic development has resulted in a partial decoupling
of Indigenous cultural claims from the radical aspirations for social, political and economic change
that once underpinned them. However, following my reading of Fanon, I argue that this gradual
displacement of questions of Indigenous sovereignty and alternative political economies by narrowly
conceived cultural claims within the Dene struggle is better understood as an effect of primitive
accumulation via the hegemonization of the liberal discourse of recognition than due to some core
deficiency with Indigenous cultural politics as such.
The Essentialism Challenge
The second constellation of criticisms frequently leveled against the recognition paradigm revolves
around the essentialist articulations of individual and collective identity that sometimes anchor
demands for cultural accommodation in theory and practice. In recent feminist, queer, and antiracist
literature, the term essentialism is often used pejoratively to refer to those theories and social
practices that treat identity categories such as gender, race, and class as fixed, immutable and
universal, instead of being constructed, contingent, and open to cultural variation.70 According to
Ann Philips, when recognition-based models of cultural pluralism invoke essentialist articulations of
identity they risk functioning not as a cultural liberator but as a cultural straitjacket, forcing
members of minority cultural groups into a regime of authenticity, denying them the chance to cross
cultural borders, borrow cultural influences, define and redefine themselves.71 In order to avoid this
potentially repressive feature of identity politics, we are told that the various expressions of
identification and signification that underpin demands for recognitionsuch as gender, culture,
nationhood, and traditionmust remain open-ended and never immune from contestation or
democratic deliberation. The anti-essentialist position thus poses yet another set of challenges to the
affirmative relationship drawn between recognition and freedom by uncritical supporters of the
politics of difference.
Chapter 3 unpacks some of the problems identified by the anti-essentialist challenge through a

gendered analysis of the decade of Indigenous mega-constitutional politics spanning the patriation of
Canadas Constitution Act, 1982 and the demise of the Charlottetown Accord in 1992. The
Charlottetown Accord was a proposed agreement struck between the federal government, the
provincial and territorial governments, and Aboriginal representatives on a proposed series of
amendments to the Constitution Act, 1982. Among other things, the amendment sought to address
issues concerning the recognition of Quebecs distinct status within confederation, the recognition of
an Aboriginal right to self-government, and parliamentary reform.
Although I remain indebted to the critical insights offered by Frantz Fanon and activists within the
Dene Nation regarding the entangled relationship among racism, state power, capitalism, and colonial
dispossession, all paid insufficient attention to the role played by patriarchy in this corrosive
configuration of power. Recent feminist analyses of the ten-year effort to constitutionally entrench an
Aboriginal right to self-government provide a particularly illustrative corrective to this shortcoming.
Specifically, these analyses have done an excellent job foregrounding the manner in which
contemporary essentialist articulations of Indigenous culture have converged with the legacy of
patriarchal misrecognition under the Indian Act to discursively inform our recent efforts to attain
recognition of a right to self-government. However, even though I find much of this anti-essentialistinspired analysis compelling, I nonetheless hope to illuminate two problems that arise when this form
of criticism is uncritically wielded in the context of Indigenous peoples struggles for recognition and
self-determination. First, using recent feminist and deliberative democratic critiques of Indigenous
recognition politics as a backdrop, I demonstrate how normative appropriations of social
constructivism can undercut the liberatory aspirations of anti-essentialist criticism by failing to
adequately address the complexity of interlocking social relations that serve to exasperate the types of
exclusionary cultural practices that critics of essentialism find so disconcerting. Second, and perhaps
more problematically, I show that when constructivist views of culture are posited as a universal
feature of social life and then used as a means to evaluate the legitimacy of Indigenous claims for
cultural recognition against the uncontested authority of the colonial state, it can serve to sanction the
very forms of domination and inequality that anti-essentialist criticism ought to mitigate.
Chapter 4 examines the convergence of Indigenous recognition politics with the more recent
transitional justice discourse of reconciliation that began to gain considerable attention in Canada
following the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in
1996. RCAP was established by the federal government in 1991 in the wake of two national crises
that unraveled the previous summer and fall: the failed Meech Lake Accord and the armed standoff
between the Mohawks of Kanesatake, Quebec, and the Canadian military (popularly known as the
Oka Crisis). The commission was established with a sixteen-point mandate to investigate the
troubled relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the state, and to issue a series of
comprehensive recommendations that might serve to facilitate a process of genuine reconciliation.
The last thirty years have witnessed a global proliferation of state institutional mechanisms that
promote forgiveness and reconciliation as a means of resolving the adverse social impacts of
various forms of intrastate violence and historical injustice. Originally, however, this approach to
conflict resolution was developed in polities undergoing a formal transition from the violent history
of openly authoritarian regimes to more democratic forms of rule. This chapter will explore the
efficacy of transitional justice mechanismssuch as state apologies, commissions of inquiry, truth
and reconciliation commissions, individual reparations, and so forthwhen applied to the
nontransitional context of the Canadian settler state.

In doing so, I argue that in settler-colonial contexts such as Canadawhere there is no formal
period marking an explicit transition from an authoritarian past to a democratic presentstatesanctioned approaches to reconciliation tend to ideologically fabricate such a transition by narrowly
situating the abuses of settler colonization firmly in the past. In these situations, reconciliation itself
becomes temporally framed as the process of individually and collectively overcoming the harmful
legacy left in the wake of this past abuse, while leaving the present structure of colonial rule
largely unscathed. In such a context, those who refuse to forgive or reconcile are typically
represented in the policy literature as suffering from this legacy, unable or unwilling to move on
because of their simmering anger and resentment. Drawing again on Frantz Fanons work, I challenge
the ways in which Canadian reconciliation politics tends to uncritically represent Indigenous
expressions of anger and resentment as negative emotions that threaten to impede the realization of
reconciliation in the lives of Indigenous people and communities on the one hand, and between
Indigenous nations and Canada on the other. Although it is on occasion acknowledged that reactive
emotions like anger and resentment can generate both positive and negative effects, more often than
not defenders of reconciliation represent these emotional expressions in an unsympathetic lightas
irrational, as physically and psychologically unhealthy, as reactionary, backward looking, and even as
socially pathological. In contradistinction to this view, I argue that in the context of ongoing settlercolonial injustice, Indigenous peoples anger and resentment can indicate a sign of moral protest and
political outrage that we ought to at least take seriously, if not embrace as a sign of our critical
By the end of chapter 4 it should be evident why Fanon did not attribute much emancipatory
potential to either a Hegelian or liberal politics of recognition when applied to colonial situations;
this did not lead Fanon to reject the recognition paradigm entirely, however. Instead, what Fanons
work does is redirect our attention to the host of self-affirmative cultural practices that colonized
peoples often critically engage in to empower themselves, as opposed to relying too heavily on the
subjectifying apparatus of the state or other dominant institutions of power to do this for them. In
doing so, Fanons position challenges colonized peoples to transcend the fantasy that the settler-state
apparatusas a structure of domination predicated on our ongoing dispossessionis somehow
capable of producing liberatory effects.72 The task of chapter 5 is to flesh out this self-affirmative
thread in Fanons thought and politics through a critical reading of his engagement with the work of
Jean-Paul Sartre on the one hand, and the negritude movement on the other. Although negritude
constituted a diverse body of inter- and postwar, francophone black artistic production and political
activism, at its core the movement emphasized the need for colonized people and communities to
purge themselves of the internalized effects of colonial racism through an affirmation of the worth of
black difference. I argue that even though Fanons critical appraisal of negritude clearly saw the
revaluation of precolonial African cultural forms as a crucial means of momentarily freeing the
colonized from the interpellative grasp of racist misrecognition, in the end it will be shown that he
shared Sartres unwillingness to acknowledge the transformative role that critically revived
Indigenous cultural practices might play in the construction of alternatives to the colonial project of
genocide and land dispossession. I thus conclude the chapter with the claim that, although insightful in
many respects, Fanons overly instrumental view of the relationship between culture and
decolonization renders his theory inadequate as a framework for understanding contemporary
Indigenous struggles for self-determination. Indigenous peoples tend to view their resurgent practices
of cultural self-recognition and empowerment as permanent features of our decolonial political
projects, not transitional ones.

The conclusion begins with a reiteration of the main line of argument defended in Red Skin, White
Masksthat the liberal recognition-based approach to Indigenous self-determination in Canada that
began to consolidate itself after the demise of the 1969 White Paper has not only failed, but now
serves to reproduce the very forms of colonial power which our original demands for recognition
sought to transcend. This argument will undoubtedly be controversial to many Indigenous scholars
and Aboriginal organization leaders insofar as it suggests that much of our efforts over the last four
decades to attain settler-state recognition of our rights to land and self-government have in fact
encouraged the oppositethe continued dispossession of our homelands and the ongoing usurpation
of our self-determining authority. I suggest that this conclusion demands that we begin to collectively
redirect our struggles away from a politics that seeks to attain a conciliatory form of settler-state
recognition for Indigenous nations toward a resurgent politics of recognition premised on selfactualization, direct action, and the resurgence of cultural practices that are attentive to the subjective
and structural composition of settler-colonial power. I thus conclude my investigation in Red Skin,
White Masks with 5 theses on Indigenous politics that highlight the core features of this resurgent
approach to Indigenous decolonization in light of the Idle No More movement that exploded onto the
Canadian political scene in Canada in the late fall/early winter of 2012. What originally began in the
fall of 2012 as an education campaign designed to inform Canadians about a particularly repugnant
and undemocratic piece of legislation recently passed by the Canadian federal governmentthe Jobs
and Growth Act, or Bill C-45, which threatens to erode Indigenous land and treaty rights as well as
environmental protections for much of our waterwayshad erupted by mid-January 2013 into a fullblown defense of Indigenous land and sovereignty. Idle No More offers a productive case study
through which to explore what a resurgent Indigenous politics might look like on the ground.

The Politics of Recognition in Colonial Contexts
Humanity does not gradually progress from combat to combat until it arrives at universal reciprocity, where the rule
of law finally replaces warfare. Humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from
domination to domination.
Michel Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History
For Hegel there is reciprocity; here the master laughs at the consciousness of the slave. What he wants from the
slave is not recognition but work.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

My introductory chapter began by making two broad claims: first, I claimed that since 1969 we have
witnessed the modus operandi of colonial power relations in Canada shift from a more or less
unconcealed structure of domination to a form of colonial governance that works through the medium
of state recognition and accommodation; and second, I claimed that regardless of this shift Canadian
settler-colonialism remains structurally oriented around achieving the same power effect it sought in
the pre1969 period: the dispossession of Indigenous peoples of their lands and self-determining
authority. This chapter further develops my first claim by providing a theoretical account of how the
politics of recognition has come to serve the interests of colonial power in the ways that it has. It is to
this question, I claim, that Fanon provides a strikingly perceptive answer: in situations where
colonial rule does not depend solely on the exercise of state violence, its reproduction instead rests
on the ability to entice Indigenous peoples to identify, either implicitly or explicitly, with the
profoundly asymmetrical and nonreciprocal forms of recognition either imposed on or granted to
them by the settler state and society.
Fanon first developed this insight in his 1952 text, Black Skin, White Masks, where he
persuasively challenges the applicability of Hegels dialectic of recognition to colonial and
racialized settings.1 In contradistinction to what he viewed as Hegels abstraction, Fanon argued that,
in actual contexts of domination (such as colonialism), not only are the terms of recognition usually
determined by and in the interests of the master (the colonizing state and society), but also over time
slave populations (the colonized) tend to develop what he called psycho-affective attachments to
these master-sanctioned forms of recognition, and that this attachment is essential in maintaining the
economic and political structure of master/slave (colonizer/colonized) relations themselves.2 By the
end of this chapter it should be clear in theoretical terms that the contemporary politics of recognition
is ill equipped to deal with the interrelated structural and psycho-affective dimensions of colonial
power that Fanon implicated in the preservation of colonial hierarchies. Once this theoretical ground
has been paved, I can then proceed in chapters 2, 3, and 4 to evaluate Fanons critique against three
empirical case studies drawn from the post-1969 history of Indigenousstate relations in Canada.
This chapter is organized into four sections. In the first section, I outline some of the underlying
assumptions that inform the politics of recognition from Hegels master/slave to the work of Charles
Taylor. In the second section, I apply the insights of Fanons critique of Hegels dialectic of
recognition to highlight a number of problems that appear to plague Taylors politics of recognition

when applied to colonial contexts. Although I tend to focus most of my attention on Taylors work, it
should be clear that the conclusions reached in this chapter are by no means limited to his
contribution alone. In the third section, I hope to show that the processes of colonial subjection
identified in the previous sections, although formidable, are not total. As Robert Young argues, Fanon
himself spent much of his career as a psychiatrist investigating the inner effects of colonialism in
order to establish a means through which they could be resisted, turning the inculcation of inferiority
into self-empowerment.3 Here I argue that the self-affirmative logic underlying Fanons writings on
anticolonial agency and empowerment offer a potential means of evading the liberal politics of
recognitions tendency to produce colonial subjects. The groundwork laid in section 3 will provide a
launching point for my discussion in chapter 5 and my conclusion, where the theory and practice of
Indigenous anticolonialism as a resurgent practice of cultural self-recognition will be taken up in
more detail. And finally, in the last section, I address an important counterargument to my position
through a critical engagement with the work of Anishinaabe political philosopher Dale Turner.

Recognition from Hegels Master-Slave to Charles Taylors

Politics of Recognition
It is now commonly acknowledged that one of Hegels most enduring contributions to contemporary
social and political thought has been his concept of recognition. In the words of Nancy Fraser and
Axel Honneth: Whether the issue is indigenous land claims or womens carework, homosexual
marriage or Muslim headscarves . . . the term recognition [is increasingly used] to unpack the
normative bases of [todays] political claims. . . . Recognition has become a key word of our time.4
For my purposes here it will suffice to limit my discussion of Hegels theory of recognition to his
chapter Lordship and Bondage in the Phenomenology of Spirit.5 This narrower approach can be
justified on two grounds. First, although others have recognized the importance of Hegels earlier and
later writings on recognition, Fanon was primarily concerned, following Alexander Kojve and JeanPaul Sartre,6 with recognition as it appeared in the master/slave dialectic of the Phenomenology of
Spirit. In this respect, it has been suggested that Fanons work be read as an important, yet largely
ignored, contribution to the so-called Hegel renaissance that occurred in Frances intellectual scene
after World War II.7 The second justification is that this chapter is not about Hegel per se. Rather, it
concerns the contemporary appropriation (whether implicit or explicit) of his theory of recognition by
activists, political theorists, and policy makers working on issues pertaining to Indigenous selfdetermination in Canada. Only once I have teased out the logic of recognition at play in Hegels
master/slave narrative, can I begin to unpack and problematize this appropriation.
As suggested in the previous chapter, at its core, Hegels master/slave narrative can be read in at
least two ways that continue to inform contemporary recognition-based theories of liberal pluralism.
On the first reading, Hegels dialectic outlines a theory of identity formation that cuts against the
classical liberal view of the subject insofar as it situates social relations at the fore of human
subjectivity. On this account, relations of recognition are deemed constitutive of subjectivity: one
becomes an individual subject only in virtue of recognizing, and being recognized by another
subject.8 Our senses of self are thus dependent on and shaped through our complex relations with
others. This insight into the intersubjective nature of identity formation underlies Hegels often quoted
assertion that self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for

another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged.9

On the second reading, the dialectic moves beyond highlighting the relational nature of human
subjectivity to elucidate what Hegel sees as the intersubjective conditions required for the realization
of human freedom. From this perspective, the master/slave narrative can be read in a normative light
in that it suggests that the realization of oneself as an essential, self-determining agent requires that
one not only be recognized as self-determining, but that one be recognized by another selfconsciousness that is also recognized as self-determining. It is through these reciprocal processes and
exchanges of recognition that the condition of possibility for freedom emerges.10 Hence Hegels
repeated insistence that relations of recognition be mutual. This point is driven home in the latter half
of Hegels section Lordship and Bondage, when he discusses the ironic fate of the master in a
context of asymmetrical recognition. After the life-and-death struggle between the two selfconsciousnesses temporarily cashes out in the hierarchical master/slave relationship, Hegel goes on
to depict a surprising turn of events in which the masters desire for recognition as an essential
being-for-itself is thwarted by the fact that he or she is only recognized by the unessential and
dependent consciousness of the slave,11 and of course recognition by a slave hardly constitutes
recognition at all. In this onesided and unequal relationship the master fails to gain certainty of
being-for-self as the truth of himself. On the contrary, his truth is in reality the unessential
consciousness and its unessential action.12 Meanwhile, as the master continues to wallow in his
sluggish state of increased dependency, the slave, through his or her transformative labor, becomes
conscious of what he truly is and qua worker comes to realize his own independence.13 Thus, in
the end, the truth of independent consciousness and ones status as a self-determining actor is realized
more through the praxis of the slavethrough his or her transformative work in and on the world.
However, here it is important to note that for Hegel, the revolution of the slave is not simply to
replace the master while maintaining the unequal hierarchical recognition. This, of course, would
only temporarily invert the relation, and the slave would eventually meet the same fate as the master.
Rather, as Robert Williams reminds us, Hegels project was to move beyond the patterns of
domination [and] inequality that typify asymmetrical relations of recognition as such.14 It is also on
this point that many contemporary theorists of recognition remain committed.
In Bound by Recognition, Patchen Markell suggests that one of the most significant differences
between recognition in Hegels master/slave and the politics of recognition today is that state
institutions tend to play a fundamental role in mediating relations of recognition in the latter, but not
the former.15 For example, regarding policies aimed at preserving cultural diversity, Markell writes:
far from being simple face-to-face encounters between subjects, la Hegels stylized story in the
Phenomenology, multiculturalism tends to involve large-scale exchanges of recognition in which
states typically play a crucial role.16 Charles Taylors The Politics of Recognition provides a
particularly salient example of this. In this essay, Taylor draws on the insights of Hegel, among others,
to mount a sustained critique of what he claims to be the increasingly impracticable nature of
difference-blind liberalism when applied to culturally diverse polities such as the United States
and Canada.17 Alternatively, Taylor defends a variant of liberal thought that posits that, under certain
circumstances, diverse states can indeed recognize and accommodate a range of group-specific
claims without having to abandon their commitment to a core set of fundamental rights.18 Furthermore,
these types of claims can be defended on liberal grounds because it is within and against the horizon
of ones cultural community that individuals come to develop their identities, and thus the capacity to
make sense of their lives and life choices. In short, our identities provide the background against

which our tastes and desires and opinions and aspirations make sense. Without this orienting
framework we would be unable to derive meaning from our liveswe would not know who we
are or where [we are] coming from. We would be at sea, as Taylor puts it elsewhere.19
Thus, much like Hegel before him, Taylor argues that human actors do not develop their identities
in isolation, rather they are formed through dialogue with others, in agreement or struggle with
their recognition of us.20 However, given that our identities are formed through these relations, it
also follows that they can be significantly deformed when these processes go awry. This is what
Taylor means when he asserts that identities are shaped not only by recognition, but also its absence,
often by the misrecognition of others. A person or a group of people can suffer real damage, real
distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or
contemptible picture of themselves. Nonrecognition or misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form
of oppression, imprisoning one in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being.21 This idea that
asymmetrical relations of recognition can impede human freedom by imprisoning someone in a
distorted relation-to-self is asserted repeatedly in Taylors essay. For instance, we are frequently told
that disparaging forms of recognition can inflict wounds on their victims, saddling [them] with a
crippling self-hatred; or that withholding recognition can inflict damage on those who are denied
it.22 And given that misrecognition has the capacity to harm others in this manner, it follows,
according to Taylor, that it be considered a form of oppression on par with injustices such as
inequality and exploitation.23 In Taylor, recognition is elevated to the status of a vital human
At this point the practical implications of Taylors theory begin to reveal themselves. In his more
prescriptive moments, Taylor suggests that, in Canada, both the Quebecois and Indigenous peoples
exemplify the types of threatened minorities that ought to be considered eligible for some form of
recognition capable of accommodating their cultural distinctiveness. For Indigenous peoples
specifically, this might require the delegation of political and cultural autonomy to Native groups
through the institutions of self-government.25 Elsewhere, Taylor suggests that this could mean in
practice allowing for a new form of jurisdiction in Canada, perhaps weaker than the provinces, but,
unlike municipalities.26 Accommodating the claims of First Nations in this way would ideally allow
Native communities to preserve their cultural integrity and thus help stave off the psychological
disorientation and resultant unfreedom associated with exposure to structured patterns of mis- or
nonrecognition.27 In this way, the institutionalization of a liberal regime of reciprocal recognition
would better enable Indigenous peoples to realize their status as distinct and self-determining actors.
Although it is true that the normative dimension of Taylors project represents an improvement over
Canadas past tactics of exclusion, genocide, and assimilation, in the following section I argue that
the logic informing this dimensionwhere recognition is conceived as something that is ultimately
granted or accorded a subaltern group or entity by a dominant group or entityprefigures its
failure to significantly modify, let alone transcend, the breadth of power at play in colonial
relationships.28 I also hope to show that Fanon, whose work Taylor relies on to delineate the
relationship between misrecognition and the forms of unfreedom and subjection discussed above,
anticipated this failure over fifty years ago.

Frantz Fanons Sociodiagnostic Critique of Recognition Politics

In the second half of The Politics of Recognition Taylor identifies Fanons classic The Wretched of
the Earth as one of the first texts to elicit the role that misrecognition plays in propping up relations
of domination.29 By extension Fanons analysis in The Wretched of the Earth is also used to support
one of the central political arguments underlying Taylors analysis, namely, his call for the cultural
recognition of sub-state groups that have suffered at the hands of a hegemonic political power.
Although Taylor acknowledges that Fanon advocated violent struggle as the primary means of
overcoming the psycho-existential complexes instilled in colonial subjects by misrecognition, he
nonetheless insists that Fanons argument is applicable to contemporary debates surrounding the
politics of difference more generally.30 Below I want to challenge Taylors use of Fanon in this
context: not by disputing Taylors assertion that Fanons work constitutes an important theorization of
the ways in which the subjectivities of the oppressed can be deformed by mis- or nonrecognition, but
rather by contesting his assumption that a more accommodating, liberal regime of mutual recognition
might be capable of addressing the power relations typical of those between Indigenous peoples and
settler states. Interestingly, Fanon posed a similar challenge in his earlier work, Black Skin, White
Fanons concern with the relationship between human freedom and equality in relations of
recognition represents a central and reoccurring theme in Black Skin, White Masks.31 As mentioned at
the outset of this chapter, it was there that Fanon convincingly argued that the long-term stability of a
colonial system of governance relies as much on the internalization of the forms of racist
recognition imposed or bestowed on the Indigenous population by the colonial state and society as it
does on brute force. For Fanon, then, the longevity of a colonial social formation depends, to a
significant degree, on its capacity to transform the colonized population into subjects of imperial rule.
Here Fanon anticipates at least one aspect of the well-known work of French Marxist philosopher
Louis Althusser, who would later argue that the reproduction of capitalist relations of production
rests on the recognition function of ideology, namely, the ability of a states ideological apparatus
to interpellate individuals as subjects of class rule.32 For Fanon, colonialism operates in a similarly
dual-structured manner: it includes not only the interrelations of objective historical conditions but
also human attitudes to these conditions.33 Fanon argued that it was the interplay between the
structural/objective and recognitive/subjective features of colonialism that ensured its hegemony over
With respect to the subjective dimension, Black Skin, White Masks painstakingly outlines the
myriad ways in which those attitudes conducive to colonial rule are cultivated among the colonized
through the unequal exchange of institutionalized and interpersonal patterns of recognition between
the colonial society and the Indigenous population. In effect, Fanon showed how, over time, colonized
populations tend to internalize the derogatory images imposed on them by their colonial masters,
and how as a result of this process, these images, along with the structural relations with which they
are entwined, come to be recognized (or at least endured) as more or less natural.34 This point is
made agonizingly clear in arguably the most famous passage from Black Skin, White Masks where
Fanon shares an alienating encounter on the streets of Paris with a little white child. Look, a Negro!
Fanon recalled the child saying, Moma, see the Negro! Im frightened! frightened!35 At that moment
the imposition of the childs racist gaze sealed Fanon into a crushing objecthood, fixing him like
a chemical solution is fixed by a dye.36 He found himself temporarily accepting that he was indeed
the subject of the childs call: It was true, it amused me, thought Fanon.37 But then I subjected
myself to an objective examination, I discovered my blackness, my ethnic characteristics; and I was

battered down by tom-toms, cannibalism, intellectual deficiency, fetishism, racial defects.38 Far from
assuring Fanons humanity, the others recognition imprisoned him in an externally determined and
devalued conception of himself. Instead of being acknowledged as a man among men, he was
reduced to an object [among] other objects.39
Left as is, Fanons insights into the ultimately subjectifying nature of colonial recognition appear to
square nicely with Taylors work. For example, although Fanon never uses the term himself, he
appears to be mapping the debilitating effects associated with misrecognition in the sense that Taylor
uses the term. Indeed, Black Skin, White Masks is littered with passages highlighting the innumerable
ways in which the imposition of the settlers gaze can inflict damage on Indigenous societies at both
the individual and collective levels. Taylor is more or less explicit about his debt to Fanon in this
respect too. Since 1492, he writes with The Wretched of the Earth in mind, Europeans have
projected an image of [the colonized] as somehow inferior, uncivilized, and through the force of
conquest have been able to impose this image on the conquered.40 Even with these similarities,
however, I believe that a close reading of Black Skin, White Masks renders problematic Taylors
approach in several interrelated and crucial respects.
The first problem has to do with its failure to adequately confront the dual structure of colonialism
itself. Fanon insisted, for example, that a colonial configuration of power could be transformed only
if attacked at both levels of operation: the objective and the subjective.41 This point is made at the
outset of Black Skin, White Masks and reverberates throughout all of Fanons work. As indicated in
his introduction, although a significant amount of Black Skin, White Masks would highlight and
explore the psychological terrain of colonialism, this would not be done in a manner decoupled
from an analysis of its structural or material foundations. Indeed, Fanon claimed that there will be an
authentic disalienation of the colonized subject only to the degree to which things, in the most
materialistic meaning of the word, [are] returned to their proper places.42 Hence the term
sociodiagnostic for Fanons project: If there is an inferiority complex, it is the outcome of a
double process . . . primarily economic; [and] subsequently the internalization . . . of his inferiority.43
In Fanon, colonial-capitalist exploitation and domination is correctly situated alongside
misrecognition and alienation as foundational sources of colonial injustice. The Negro problem,
writes Fanon, does not resolve itself into the problem of Negroes living among white men but rather
of Negroes being exploited, enslaved, despised by a colonialist, capitalist society that is only
accidentally white.44
Fanon was enough of a Marxist to understand the role played by capitalism in exasperating
hierarchical relations of recognition. However, he was also much more perceptive than many
Marxists of his day in his insistence that the subjective realm of colonialism be the target of strategic
transformation along with the socioeconomic structure. The colonized person must wage war on both
levels, insisted Fanon. Since historically they influence each other, any unilateral liberation is
incomplete, and the gravest mistake would be to believe in their automatic interdependence.45 For
Fanon, attacking colonial power on one front, in other words, would not guarantee the subversion of
its effects on the other. This is why a Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched when it
comes to addressing the colonial issue, Fanon would later write in The Wretched of the Earth.46
Here, I would argue that Fanons stretching of the Marxist paradigm constitutes one of the most
innovative contributions to classical Marxist debates on ideology. Unlike the position of, say, Georg
Lukacs, who boldly claimed in History and Class Consciousness that there is no problem and

therefore no solution that does not ultimately lead back to the question of economic structure,47
Fanon revealed the ways in which those axes of domination historically relegated in Marxism to the
superstructural realmsuch as racism and the effects it has on those subject to itcould
substantively configure the character of social relations relatively autonomously from capitalist
Lately a number of scholars have taken aim at the contribution of recognition theorists like Taylor
on analogous grounds: that their work offers little insight into how to address the more overtly
structural and/or economic features of social oppression.48 We have also been told that this lack of
insight has contributed to a shift in the terrain of contemporary political thought and practice more
generallyfrom redistribution to recognition, to use Nancy Frasers formulation. According to
Fraser, whereas proponents of redistribution tend to highlight and confront injustices in the economic
sphere, advocates of the newer politics of recognition tend to focus on and attack injustices in the
cultural realm. On the redistribution front, proposed remedies for injustice range between
affirmative strategies, like the administration of welfare, to more transformative methods, like the
transformation of the capitalist mode of production itself. In contrast, strategies aimed at injustices
associated with misrecognition tend to focus on cultural and symbolic change. Again, this could
involve affirmative approaches, such as the recognition and reaffirmation of previously disparaged
identities, or these strategies could adopt a more transformative form, such as the deconstruction
of dominant patterns of representation in ways that would change everyones social identities.49
I think that Fanons work, which anticipates the recognition/redistribution debate by half a century,
highlights several key shortcomings in the approaches of both Taylor and Fraser. Taylors approach is
insufficient insofar as it tends to, at its best, address the political economy of colonialism in a strictly
affirmative manner: through reformist state redistribution schemes like granting certain cultural
rights and concessions to Aboriginal communities via self-government and land claims packages.
Although this approach may alter the intensity of some of the effects of colonial-capitalist exploitation
and domination, it does little to address their generative structures, in this case a capitalist economy
constituted by racial and gender hierarchies and the colonial state. When his work is at its weakest,
however, Taylor tends to focus on the recognition end of the spectrum too much, and as a result leaves
uninterrogated colonialisms deep-seated structural features. Richard J. F. Day has succinctly framed
the problem this way: Although Taylors recognition model allows for diversity of culture within a
particular state by admitting the possibility of multiple national identifications, it is less permissive
with regard to polity and economy . . . in assuming that any subaltern group that is granted
[recognition] will thereby acquire a subordinate articulation with a capitalist state.50 Seen from this
angle, Taylors theory leaves one of the two operative levels of colonial power identified by Fanon
This line of criticism is well worn and can be traced back to at least the work of early Karl Marx.
As such, I doubt that many would be surprised that Taylors variant of liberalism as liberalism fails
to confront the structural or economic aspects of colonialism at its generative roots. To my mind,
however, this shortcoming in Taylors approach is particularly surprising given the fact that, although
many Indigenous leaders and communities today tend to instrumentally couch their claims in reformist
terms, this has not always been the case: indeed, historically, Indigenous demands for cultural
recognition have often been expressed in ways that have explicitly called into question the
dominating nature of capitalist social relations and the state form.51 And the same can be said of a
growing number of todays most prominent Indigenous scholars and activists.52 Mohawk political

scientist Taiaiake Alfred, for example, has repeatedly argued that the goal of any traditionally rooted
self-determination struggle ought to be to protect that which constitutes the heart and soul of
[I]ndigenous nations: a set of values that challenge the homogenizing force of Western liberalism and
free-market capitalism; that honor the autonomy of individual conscience, non-coercive authority, and
the deep interconnection between human beings and other elements of creation.53 For Alfred, this
vision is not only embodied in the practical philosophies and ethical systems of many of North
Americas Indigenous societies, but also flows from a realization that capitalist economics and
liberal delusions of progress have historically served as the engines of colonial aggression and
injustice itself.54 My point here is that an approach that is explicitly oriented around dialog and
listening ought to be more sensitive to the claims and challenges emanating from these dissenting
Indigenous voices.55
However, if Taylors account pays insufficient attention to the clearly structural and economic
realm of domination, then Frasers does so from the opposite angle. In order to avoid what she sees
as the pitfalls associated with the politics of recognitions latent essentialism and displacement of
questions of distributive justice, Fraser proposes a means of integrating struggles for recognition with
those of redistribution without subordinating one to the other. To this end, Fraser suggests that instead
of understanding recognition as the revaluation of cultural or group-specific identity, and
misrecognition as the disparagement of such identity and its consequent effects on the subjectivities of
minorities, recognition and misrecognition should be conceived of in terms of the institutionalized
patterns of value that affect ones ability to participate as a peer in social life. To view
recognition in this manner, writes Fraser, is to treat it as an issue of social status.56
Although Frasers status model allows her to curtail some of the problems she attributes to identity
politics, it does so at the expense of addressing two of the most pertinent features of injustices related
to mis- or nonrecognition in colonial contexts. First, when applied to Indigenous struggles for
recognition, Frasers status model rests on the problematic background assumption that the settler
state constitutes a legitimate framework within which Indigenous peoples might be more justly
included, or from which they could be further excluded. Here Fraser, like Taylor, leaves intact two
features of colonial domination that Indigenous assertions of nationhood call into question: the
legitimacy of the settler states claim to sovereignty over Indigenous people and their territories on
the one hand, and the normative status of the state-form as an appropriate mode of governance on the
other.57 Indeed, at one point in her well-known exchange with Axel Honneth, Fraser hints at her
theorys weakness in this regard. While discussing the work of Will Kymlicka, Fraser admits that her
status model may not be as suited to situations where claims for recognition contest a current
distribution of state sovereignty. Where Kymlickas approach is tailored to demands for recognition
in multinational societies, Frasers project, we are told, seeks to address such demands in
polyethnic polities like the United States.58 The problem with this caveat, however, is that it is
premised on a misrecognition of its own: namely, that as a state founded on the dispossessed
territories of previously self-determining but now colonized Indigenous nations, the United States is a
multinational state in much the way that Canada is. My second concern is this: if many of todays most
volatile political conflicts do include subjective or psychological dimensions to them in the way that
Fraser admits (and Taylor and Fanon describe), then I fear her approach, which attempts to eschew a
direct engagement with this aspect of social oppression, risks leaving an important contributing
dynamic to identity-related forms of domination unchecked. By avoiding this psychologizing
tendency within the politics of recognition, Fraser claims to have located what is wrong with

misrecognition in social relations and not individual or interpersonal psychology. This is

preferable, we are told, because when misrecognition is identified with internal distortions in the
structure of the consciousness of the oppressed, it is but a short step to blaming the victim.59 This
does not have to be the case. Fanon, for example, was unambiguous with respect to locating the cause
of the inferiority complex of colonized subjects in the colonial social structure.60 The problem,
however, is that any psychological problems that ensue, although socially constituted, can take on a
life of their own, and thus need to be dealt with independently and in accordance with their own
specific logics. As mentioned previously, Fanon was insistent that a change in the social structure
would not guarantee a change in the subjectivities of the oppressed. Stated simply, if Fanons insight
into the interdependent yet semi-autonomous nature of the two facets of colonial power is correct,
then dumping all our efforts into alleviating the institutional or structural impediments to participatory
parity (whether redistributive or recognitive) may not do anything to undercut the debilitating forms of
unfreedom related to misrecognition in the traditional sense.61
This brings us to the second key problem with Taylors theory when applied to colonial contexts. I
have already suggested that Taylors liberal-recognition approach is incapable of curbing the
damages wrought within and against Indigenous communities by the structures of state and capital, but
what about his theory of recognition? Does it suffer the same fate vis--vis the forms of power that it
seeks to undercut? As noted in the previous section, underlying Taylors theory is the assumption that
the flourishing of Indigenous peoples as distinct and self-determining entities is significantly
dependent on their being afforded cultural recognition and institutional accommodation by the settler
state apparatus. What makes this approach both so intriguing and so problematic, however, is that
Fanon, whom Taylor uses to make his case, argued against a similar presumption in the penultimate
chapter of Black Skin, White Masks. Moreover, like Taylor, Fanon did so with reference to Hegels
master/slave parable. There Fanon argued that the dialectical progression to reciprocity in relations
of recognition is frequently undermined in colonial situations by the fact that, unlike the subjugated
slave in Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit, many colonized societies no longer have to struggle for
their freedom and independence. It is often negotiated, achieved through constitutional amendment, or
simply declared by the settler state and bestowed upon the Indigenous population in the form of
political rights. Whatever the method, in these circumstances the colonized, steeped in the
inessentiality of servitude, are set free by [the] master.62 One day the White Master, without
conflict, recognize[s] the Negro slave.63 As such, they do not have to lay down their lives to prove
their certainty of being in the way that Hegel insisted.64 The upheaval of formal freedom and
independence thus reaches the colonized from without: The black man [is] acted upon. Values that
[are] not . . . created by his actions, values that [are] not . . . born of the systolic tide of his blood,
[dance] in a hued whirl around him. The upheaval [does] not make a difference in the Negro. He
[goes] from one way of life to another, but not from one life to another.65 There are a number of
important issues underlying Fanons concern here. The first involves the relationship he draws
between struggle and the disalienation of the colonized subject. For Fanon it is through struggle and
conflict (and for the later Fanon, violent struggle and conflict) that imperial subjects come to be rid of
the arsenal of complexes driven into the core of their being through the colonial process.66 I will
have more to say about this aspect of Fanons thought below, but for now I simply want to flag the fact
that struggle serves as the mediating force through which the colonized come to shed their colonial
identities, thus restoring them to their proper places.67 In contexts where recognition is conferred
without struggle or conflict, this fundamental self-transformationor as Lou Turner has put it, this

inner differentiation at the level of the colonizeds beingcannot occur, thus foreclosing the
realization of freedom. Hence Fanons claim that the colonized simply go from one way of life to
another, but not from one life to another; the structure of domination is modified, but the subject
position of the colonized remains unchangedthey become emancipated slaves.68
The second important point to note is that when Fanon speaks of a lack of struggle in the
decolonization movements of his day, he does not mean to suggest that the colonized in these contexts
simply remained passive recipients of colonial practices. He readily admits, for example, that from
time to time the colonized may indeed fight for Liberty and Justice. However, when this fight is
carried out in a manner that does not pose a foundational break with the background structures of
colonial power as suchwhich, for Fanon, will always invoke struggle and conflictthen the best
the colonized can hope for is white liberty and white justice; that is, values secreted by [their]
masters.69 Without conflict and struggle the terms of recognition tend to remain in the possession of
those in power to bestow on their inferiors in ways that they deem appropriate.70 Note the double
level of subjection here: without transformative struggle constituting an integral aspect of anticolonial
praxis the Indigenous population will not only remain subjects of imperial rule insofar as they have
not gone through a process of purging the psycho-existential complexes battered into them over the
course of their colonial experiencea process of strategic desubjectificationbut they will also
remain so in that the Indigenous society will tend to come to see the forms of structurally limited and
constrained recognition conferred to them by their colonial masters as their own: that is, the
colonized will begin to identify with white liberty and white justice. As Fanon would later phrase
it in The Wretched of the Earth, these values eventually seep into the colonized and subtly structure
and limit the possibility of their freedom.71 Either way, for Fanon, the colonized will have failed to
reestablish themselves as truly self-determining: as creators of the terms, values, and conditions by
which they are to be recognized.72
My third concern with Taylors politics of recognition involves a misguided sociological
assumption that undergirds his appropriation of Hegels notion of mutual recognition. As noted in the
previous section, at the heart of Hegels master/slave dialectic is the idea that both parties engaged in
the struggle for recognition are dependent on the others acknowledgment for their freedom and selfworth. Moreover, Hegel asserts that this dependency is even more crucial for the master in the
relationship, for unlike the slave he or she is unable to achieve independence and objective selfcertainty through the object of his or her own labor. Mutual dependency thus appears to be the
background condition that ensures the dialectic progress towards reciprocity. This is why Taylor
claims, with reference to Hegel, that the struggle for recognition can only find one satisfactory
solution, and that is a regime of reciprocal recognition among equals.73 However, as Fanons
work reminds us, the problem with this formulation is that when applied to actual struggles for
recognition between hegemonic and subaltern communities the mutual character of dependency rarely
exists. This observation is made in a lengthy footnote in Black Skin, White Masks where Fanon
claims to have shown how the colonial master basically differs from the master depicted in Hegels
Phenomenology of Spirit. For Hegel there is reciprocity, but in the colonies the master laughs at
the consciousness of the slave. What he wants from the slave is not recognition but work.74 To my
mind this is one of the most crucial passages in Black Skin, White Masks for it outlines in precise
terms what is wrong with the recognition paradigm when abstracted from the face-to-face encounter
in Hegels dialectic and applied to colonial situations. Although the issue here is an obvious one, it
has nonetheless been critically overlooked in the contemporary recognition literature: in relations of

domination that exist between nation-states and the sub-state national groups that they incorporate
into their territorial and jurisdictional boundaries, there is no mutual dependency in terms of a need or
desire for recognition.75 In these contexts, the masterthat is, the colonial state and state society
does not require recognition from the previously self-determining communities upon which its
territorial, economic, and social infrastructure is constituted. What it needs is land, labor, and
resources.76 Thus, rather than leading to a condition of reciprocity the dialectic either breaks down
with the explicit nonrecognition of the equal status of the colonized population, or with the strategic
domestication of the terms of recognition leaving the foundation of the colonial relationship
relatively undisturbed.77
Anyone familiar with the power dynamics that structure the Aboriginal rights movement in Canada
should immediately see the applicability of Fanons insights here. Indeed, one need not expend much
effort to elicit the countless ways in which the liberal discourse of recognition has been limited and
constrained by the state, the courts, corporate interests, and policy makers in ways that have helped
preserve the colonial status quo. With respect to the law, for example, over the last thirty years the
Supreme Court of Canada has consistently refused to recognize Aboriginal peoples equal and selfdetermining status based on its adherence to legal precedent founded on the white supremacist myth
that Indigenous societies were too primitive to bear political rights when they first encountered
European powers.78 Thus, even though the courts have secured an unprecedented degree of protection
for certain cultural practices within the state, they have nonetheless repeatedly refused to challenge
the racist origin of Canadas assumed sovereign authority over Indigenous peoples and their
The political and economic ramifications of recent Aboriginal rights jurisprudence have been
clear-cut. In Delgamuukw v. British Columbia it was declared that any residual Aboriginal rights that
may have survived the unilateral assertion of Crown sovereignty could be infringed upon by the
federal and provincial governments so long as this action could be shown to further a compelling
and substantial legislative objective that is consistent with the special fiduciary relationship
between the Crown and the [A]boriginal peoples. What substantial objectives might justify
infringement? According to the court, virtually any exploitative economic venture, including the
development of agriculture, forestry, mining, and hydroelectric power, the general economic
development of the interior of British Columbia, protection of the environment or endangered species,
and the building of infrastructure and the settlement of foreign populations to support those aims.79
So today it appears, much as it did in Fanons day, that colonial powers will only recognize the
collective rights and identities of Indigenous peoples insofar as this recognition does not throw into
question the background legal, political, and economic framework of the colonial relationship itself.80
But the above examples confirm only one aspect of Fanons insight into the problem of recognition
in colonial contexts: namely, the limitations this approach runs up against when pitted against these
overtly structural expressions of domination. Are his criticisms and concerns equally relevant to the
subjective or psycho-affective features of contemporary colonial power?
With respect to the forms of racist recognition driven into the psyches of Indigenous peoples
through the institutions of the state, church, schools, and media, and by racist individuals within the
dominant society, the answer is clearly yes. Countless studies, novels, and autobiographical
narratives have outlined, in painful detail, how these expressions have saddled individuals with low
self-esteem, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and violent behaviors directed both inward against

the self and outward toward others.81

Similarly convincing arguments have been made concerning the limited forms of recognition and
accommodation offered to Indigenous communities by the state. For example, Taiaiake Alfreds work
unpacks the ways in which the state institutional and discursive fields within and against which
Indigenous demands for recognition are made and adjudicated can come to shape the selfunderstandings of the Indigenous claimants involved. The problem for Alfred is that these fields are
by no means neutral: they are profoundly hierarchical and as such have the ability to asymmetrically
govern how Indigenous subjects think and act not only in relation to the recognition claim at hand, but
also in relation to themselves, to others, and the land. This is what I take Alfred to mean when he
suggests, echoing Fanon, that the dominance of the legal approach to self-determination has over time
helped produce a class of Aboriginal citizens whose rights and identities have become defined
more in relation to the colonial state and its legal apparatus than the history and traditions of
Indigenous nations themselves. Similarly, strategies that have sought independence via capitalist
economic development have already facilitated the creation of an emergent Aboriginal bourgeoisie
whose thirst for profit has come to outweigh their ancestral obligations to the land and to others.
Whatever the method, the point here is that these strategies threaten to erode the most egalitarian,
nonauthoritarian, and sustainable characteristics of traditional Indigenous cultural practices and forms
of social organization.82

Self-Recognition and Anticolonial Empowerment

The argument sketched to this point is bleak in its implications. Indeed, left as is, it would appear that
recognition inevitably leads to subjection, and as such much of what Indigenous peoples have sought
over the last forty years to secure their freedom has in practice cunningly assured its opposite.
Interpreted this way, my line of argument appears to adhere to an outdated conception of power, one
in which postcolonial critics, often reacting against the likes of Fanon and others, have worked so
diligently to refute. The implication of this view is that Indigenous subjects are always being
interpellated by recognition, being constructed by colonial discourse, or being assimilated by
colonial power structures.83 As a result, resistance to this totalizing power is often portrayed as an
inherently reactionary, zero-sum project. To the degree that Fanon can be implicated in espousing
such a totalizing view of colonial power, it has been suggested that he was unable to escape the
Manichean logic so essential in propping up relations of colonial domination to begin with.84
I want to defend Fanon, at least partially, from the charge that he advocated such a devastating
view of power. However, in order to assess the degree to which Fanon anticipates and accounts for
this general line of criticism, we must unpack his theory of anticolonial agency and empowerment.
As argued throughout the preceding pages, Fanon did not attribute much emancipatory potential to
Hegels politics of recognition when applied to colonial situations. Yet this is not to say that he
rejected the recognition paradigm entirely. As we have seen, like Hegel and Taylor, Fanon ascribed to
the notion that relations of recognition are constitutive of subjectivity and that, when unequal, they can
foreclose the realization of human freedom. On the latter point, however, he was deeply skeptical as
to whether the mutuality envisioned by Hegel was achievable in the conditions indicative of
contemporary colonialism. But if Fanon did not see freedom as naturally emanating from the slave
being granted recognition from his or her master, where, if at all, did it originate?85

In effect, Fanon claimed that the pathway to self-determination instead lay in a quasi-Nietzschean
form of personal and collective self-affirmation.86 Rather than remaining dependent on their
oppressors for their freedom and self-worth, Fanon recognized that the colonized must instead
struggle to work through their alienation/subjection against the objectifying gaze and assimilative lure
of colonial recognition. According to Fanon, it is this self-initiated process that triggers a change of
fundamental importance in the colonizeds psycho-affective equilibrium.87 According to this view,
the colonized must initiate the process of decolonization by first recognizing themselves as free,
dignified, and distinct contributors to humanity. Unlike Nietzsche, however, Fanon equated this
process of self-recognition with the praxis undertaken by the slave in Hegels Phenomenology of
Spirit, which Fanon saw as illustrating the necessity on the part of the oppressed to turn away from
their other-oriented master-dependency, and to instead struggle for freedom on their own terms and in
accordance with their own values.88 I would also argue that this is why Fanon, although critical of the
at times bourgeois and essentialist character of certain works within the negritude tradition,
nonetheless saw the project as necessary.89 Fanon was attuned to ways in which the individual and
collective revaluation of black culture and identity could serve as a source of pride and
empowerment, and if approached critically and directed appropriately, could help jolt the colonized
into an actional existence, as opposed to a reactional one characterized by ressentiment.90 As
Robert Young notes in the context of Third World decolonization, it was this initial process of
collective self-affirmation that led many colonized populations to develop a distinctive postcolonial
epistemology and ontology which enabled them to begin to conceive of and construct alternatives to
the colonial project itself.91
I would argue that Fanons call in Black Skin, White Masks for a simultaneous turn inward and
away from the master, far from espousing a rigidly binaristic Manichean view of power relations,
instead reflects a profound understanding of the complexity involved in contests over recognition in
colonial and racialized environments. Unlike Hegels life-and-death struggle between two opposing
forces, Fanon added a multidimensional racial/cultural aspect to the dialectic, thereby underscoring
the multifarious web of recognition relations that are at work in constructing identities and
establishing (or undermining) the conditions necessary for human freedom and flourishing. Fanon
showed that the power dynamics in which identities are formed and deformed were nothing like the
hegemon/subaltern binary depicted by Hegel. In an anticipatory way, then, Fanons insight can also be
said to challenge the overly negative and all-subjectifying view of interpellation that would plague
Althussers theory of ideology more than a decade later. For Althusser, the process of interpellation
always took the form of a fundamental misrecognition that served to produce within individuals the
specific characteristics and desires that commit them to the very actions that are required of them by
their [subordinate] class position.92 Fanons innovation was that he showed how similar recognitive
processes worked to call forth and empower individuals within communities of resistance.93
This is not to say, of course, that Fanon was able to completely escape the Manicheism delirium
that he was so astute at diagnosing.94 Those familiar with the legacy of Fanons later work, for
example, know that the actional existence that he saw self-recognition initiating in Black Skin,
White Masks would in The Wretched of the Earth take the form of a direct and violent engagement
with the colonial society and its institutional structure. At the very moment [the colonized come to]
discover their humanity, wrote Fanon, they must begin to sharpen their weapons to secure its
victory.95 In Fanons later work, violence would come to serve as a kind of psychotherapy of the
oppressed, offering a primary form of agency through which the subject moves from non-being to

being, from object to subject.96 In this sense, the practice of revolutionary violence, rather than the
affirmative recognition of the other, offered the most effective means to transform the subjectivities of
the colonized, as well as to topple the social structure that produced colonized subjects to begin with.

Turning Our Backs on Colonial Power?

Before concluding this chapter, I want to briefly address an important counterargument to the position
I am advocating here, especially regarding the call to selectively turn away from engaging the
discourses and structures of settler-colonial power with the aim of transforming these sites from
within. Dale Turner offers such an argument in his book This Is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a
Critical Indigenous Philosophy, in which he advances the claim that if Indigenous peoples want the
relationship between themselves and the Canadian state to be informed by their distinct worldviews,
then they will have to engage the states legal and political discourses in more effective ways.97
Underlying Turners theoretical intervention is the assumption that colonial relations of power
operate primarily by excluding the perspectives of Indigenous peoples from the discursive and
institutional sites that give their rights content. Assuming this is true, then it would indeed appear that
critically undermining colonialism requires that Indigenous peoples find more effective ways of
participating in the Canadian legal and political practices that determine the meaning of Aboriginal
For Turner, one of the preconditions for establishing a postcolonial relationship is the
development of an intellectual community of Indigenous word warriors capable of engaging the
legal and political discourses of the state. According to Turner, because it is an unfortunate but
unavoidable fact that the rights of Indigenous peoples will for the foreseeable future be largely
interpreted by non-Indigenous judges and policy makers within non-Indigenous institutions, it is
imperative that Indigenous communities develop the capacity to effectively interject our unique
perspectives into the conceptual spaces where our rights are framed. It is on this last point that Turner
claims to distinguish his approach from the work of Indigenous intellectuals like Patricia Monture and
Taiaiake Alfred. Turner claims that the problem with the decolonial strategies developed by these
scholars is that they fail to propose a means of effecting positive change within the very legal and
political structures that currently hold a monopoly on the power to determine the scope and content of
our rights. According to Turner, by focusing too heavily on tactics that would see us turn our backs
on the institutions of colonial power, these Indigenous scholars do not provide the tools required to
protect us against the unilateral construction of our rights by settler-state institutions. For Turner, it is
through an ethics of participation that Indigenous peoples can better hope to shape the legal and
political relationship so that it respects Indigenous world views.99
The efficacy of Turners intervention rests on a crucial theoretical assumption reflected in his texts
quasi-Foucauldian use of the term discourse. I say quasi-Foucauldian because when he refers to the
discursive practices of word warriors he assumes that these pack the power necessary to transform
the legal and political discourses of the state into something more amenable to Indigenous languages
of political thought. Here Turner assumes that the counterdiscourses that word warriors interject into
the field of Canadian law and politics have the capacity to shape and govern the ways in which
Aboriginal rights are reasoned about and acted on. The problem, however, is that Turner is less
willing to attribute the same degree of power to the legal and political discourses of the state. This is
what I mean when I claim that his use of the concept is quasi-Foucauldian. When Turner speaks of the

legal and political discourses of the state, he spends little time discussing the assimilative power that
these potentially hold in relation to the word warriors that are to engage them. Indeed, the only place
he does briefly mention this is at the end of his final chapter, when he writes:
For an indigenous person the problem of assimilation is always close at hand.
The anxiety generated by moving between intellectual cultures is real, and many
indigenous intellectuals find it easier to become part of mainstream culture. This
kind of assimilation will always exist, and it may not always be a bad thing for
indigenous peoples as a whole. It becomes dangerous when indigenous
intellectuals become subsumed or appropriated by the dominant culture yet
continue to act as if they were word warriors.100
Here we reach a limit in Turners argument: there is little discussion of how Indigenous peoples
might curb the risks of interpellation as they seek to interpolate the much more powerful discursive
economy of the Canadian legal and political system. Although Turner repeatedly suggests that part of
the answer to this problem lies in the ability of word warriors to remain grounded in the thought and
practices of their communities, in the end he spends little time discussing what this might entail in
Further, while Turner is right to pay attention to discursive forms of power, his analysis eclipses
the role that nondiscursive configurations play in reproducing colonial relations. My concern here is
that the problem with the legal and political discourses of the state is not only that they enjoy
hegemonic status vis--vis Indigenous discourses, but that they are also backed by and hopelessly
entwined with the economic, political, and military might of the state itself. This means that
Indigenous peoples must be able to account for these material relations as well, which would require
an exploration of theories and practices that move beyond liberal and ideational forms of discursive
transformation. While I recognize that this might be beyond the scope of Turners investigation, I think
that speaking to the diversity of forms of decolonial practice would have made his case more
One of the important insights of Fanons critique of the politics of recognition is that it provides us
with theoretical tools that enable us to determine the relative transformability of certain fields of
colonial power over others. These tools subsequently put us in a better position to critically assess
which strategies hold the most promise, and which others are more susceptible to failure.

In retrospect, Fanon appears to have overstated the cleansing value he attributed to anticolonial
violence.101 Indeed, one could argue that many Algerians have yet to fully recover from the legacy left
from the eight years of carnage and brutality that constituted Algerias war of independence with
France. Nor was the Front de Libration Nationales (FLN) revolutionary seizure of the Algerian
state apparatus enough to stave off what Fanon would call the curse of [national] independence:
namely, the subjection of the newly liberated people and territories to the tyranny of the market and
a postindependence class of bourgeois national elites.102 But if Fanon ultimately overstated violences
role as the perfect mediation through which the colonized come to liberate themselves from both the
structural and psycho-affective features of colonial domination that he identified so masterfully, then

what is the relevance of his work here and now?103

In this chapter I have suggested that Fanons insights into the subjectifying nature of colonial
recognition are as applicable today to the liberal politics of recognition as they were when he first
formulated his critique of Hegels master/slave relation. I have also suggested that Fanons dualstructured conception of colonial power still captures the subtle (and not so subtle) ways in which a
system of settler-state domination that does not sustain itself exclusively by force is reproduced over
time. As Taiaiake Alfred argues, under these postmodern imperial conditions oppression has
become increasingly invisible; [it is] no longer constituted in conventional terms of military
occupation, onerous taxation burdens, blatant land thefts, etc., but rather through a fluid confluence
of politics, economics, psychology and culture.104 But if the dispersal and effects of colonial and
state power are now so diffuse, how is one to transform or resist them? Here I believe that Fanons
work remains insightful. In that all important footnote in Black Skin, White Masks where Fanon
claimed to show how the condition of the slave in the Phenomenology of Spirit differed from those in
the colonies, he suggested that Hegel provided a partial answer: that those struggling against
colonialism must turn away from the colonial state and society and instead find in their own
decolonial praxis the source of their liberation. Today this process will and must continue to involve
some form of critical individual and collective self-recognition on the part of Indigenous societies,
not only in an instrumental sense like Fanon seemed to have envisioned it, but with the understanding
that our cultural practices have much to offer regarding the establishment of relationships within and
between peoples and the natural world built on principles of reciprocity and respectful coexistence.
Also, the empowerment that is derived from this critically self-affirmative and self-transformative
ethics of desubjectification must be cautiously directed away from the assimilative lure of the statist
politics of recognition, and instead be fashioned toward our own on-the-ground struggles of freedom.
As the feminist, antiracist theorist bell hooks explains, such a project would minimally require that
we stop being so preoccupied with looking to that Other for recognition; instead we should be
recognizing ourselves and [then seeking to] make contact with all who would engage us in a
constructive manner.105 In my concluding chapter I flesh-out what such a politics might look like in
the present; a politics that is less oriented around attaining a definitive form of affirmative recognition
from the settler state and society, and more about critically reevaluating, reconstructing, and
redeploying Indigenous cultural forms in ways that seek to prefigure, alongside those with similar
ethical commitments, radical alternatives to the structural and psycho-affective facets of colonial
domination discussed above. However, before I can commence with this concluding part of my
project, Fanons critique of recognition must first be evaluated against the politics of recognition as it
has played out in the empirical context of Indigenousstate relations in Canada. Providing such an
evaluation will be my focus in the next three chapters.

For the Land
The Dene Nations Struggle for Self-Determination

[For] [t]hirty years, our nations have been co-opted into movements of self-government and land claims
settlements, which are goals defined by the colonial state and which are in stark opposition to our original
objectives. . . . Our people were promised that they would be recognized as nations and that their lands would be
returned, but instead of realizing these goals we are left with a nasty case of metastasizing governmentalism.
Taiaiake Alfred, Wasse
To encourage cultural diversity requires not the separation of culture and politics, but their marriage and to insist
on that separation is to destroy, or attempt to destroy culture.
Dene Nation, 1977

As suggested in my introduction and chapter 1, one of the problems most commonly associated with
the politics of recognition has to do with the ways in which it has, at times, shown to be insufficiently
informed by a sociological understanding of power relations.1 For self-proclaimed historical
materialist critics Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, the conflict at the heart of those power
relations effaced by the liberal recognition paradigm is primarily economic in origin. This conflict,
Widdowson and Howard write, is elaborated in all of Marxs writings [and] exists between the few
who own the means of production and those who are the producers of all value.2 Elsewhere,
Widdowson and Howard make the absurdly reductionist claim that insofar as the politics of
recognition encourages the native population to identify in terms of ethnicity instead of
socioeconomic class it must be discarded as inherently divisive and reactionary.3 The authors then
go on to tritely conclude that it is only by eliminating this fundamental difference [namely, class
difference] that we can become a global tribe and the world can live as one.4
In this chapter, I examine further the left-materialist critique of identity/difference politics in light
of the Dene Nations struggle for recognition and self-determination in the 1970s and early 1980s. In
doing so, I suggest that insofar as the identity-related claims of Indigenous peoples for recognition are
always bound up with demands for a more equitable distribution of land, political power, and
economic resources, the left-materialist concern regarding the effacement of political economy by
questions of cultural recognition is misguided when applied to settler-state contexts. Indeed,
following Ian Angus, I argue that, in contexts where culture is understood in an inclusive
anthropological sense to encompass both ideology and material conditions the sharp distinction
between base and superstructure that underwrites the left-materialist position appears rather useless
as a starting point for social philosophy and political criticism.5 However, if one takes a modified
version of the left-materialist challenge and instead examines the relationship between Indigenous
recognition claims and the distinction made by Nancy Fraser between transformative and
affirmative forms of redistribution, the criticism begins to hold more weight.6 Recall that
transformative models of redistribution are those that seek to correct unjust distributions of power

and resources at their source; that is, they not only seek to alter the content of current modes of
domination and exploitation, but also the forms that give rise to them.7 As we shall see below, the
last thirty years we have witnessed a gradual erosion of this radical imaginary within the mainstream
Dene recognition and self-determination movement, which in the context of land claims and economic
development has resulted in a significant decoupling of Indigenous cultural claims from the
transformative visions of social, political, and economic change that once constituted them. The
purpose of this chapter is to elucidate in concrete terms how and why this has emerged as the case.
The argument presented below is broken into four sections and a conclusion. In the four sections I
examine the process of primitive accumulation as experienced by the Dene peoples of the Northwest
Territories, Canada. These sections are meant to illuminate in more practical terms the theoretical
discussion I provided in the introduction and chapter 1. More specifically, in the first section, I
examine the changing social, political, and economic context within and against which the Dene selfdetermination movement emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. In the second section I examine the placebased cultural foundation undergirding the Dene Nations critique of capitalist imperialism as
expressed at the public hearings of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry between 1975 and 1977. I
call this place-based foundation grounded normativity. In the next two sections I show how a similar
critique came to inform our demand for cultural recognition in the Dene Declaration of 1975, as well
as the three subsequent land-claims proposals submitted by the Dene Nation to the federal government
in 1976, 1977, and 1981. I argue that all four of these articulations of recognition were informed by a
place-based ethics that fundamentally challenged the assumed legitimacy of colonial sovereignty over
and capitalist social relations on Dene territories. And finally, in my conclusion, I examine some of
the effects that the negotiation of land claims has had on this place-based ethics, and how these effects
have in turn shaped the contemporary trajectory of Indigenous politics in northern Canada toward
neocolonial ends. Although the last century has witnessed numerous attempts by the state to
coercively integrate our land and communities into the fold of capitalist modernity, it was not until the
negotiation of land-claims settlements in the 1970s and 1980s that this process began to significantly
take hold. In this respect, it would appear, as my reading of Fanon suggests, that the process of
primitive accumulation has been at least in part facilitated by the very mechanism of recognition that
we hoped might shield our land and communities from it: the negotiation of a land settlement.

A Brief History of Denendeh

According to oral historical accounts, the Dene have occupied and governed themselves over the
lands within and immediately surrounding what is now the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada,
since time immemorial. During the period under examination here, it was not uncommon for Dene to
refer to this vast homeland as Denendeh, or land of the people, which traditionally covered an area
that spans over one million square kilometers from the mouth of the Mackenzie River (or Dehcho, as
the Dene call it), southward to the northern tip of the provinces, and east to Hudson Bay. Today,
however, the word Denendeh has come to represent much of the geographical area known as the
present NWT (excluding, of course, Inuvialuit territory in the far north), thus distinguishing it from
Nunavut (which, in 1999, was established as the publically governed territory of the Inuit). NonNative accounts derived from recent archaeological and linguistic evidence, while imprecise and
controversial, suggest that the first direct ancestors of the Dene migrated to our present location
between two and three thousand years ago, although unspecified human population is thought to have
occurred well before this time (anywhere between ten and twenty-eight thousand years ago).8

There are currently five Dene regions that fall within the political boundaries of the present NWT.
The northernmost region is occupied by the Gwichin Dene, whose comprehensive land-claim area,
settled in 1992, borders the southernmost boundary of the Inuvialuit land-claim area, settled eight
years before then.9 Immediately to the south of the Gwichin lie the territories of the Sahtu Dene
(comprising the Hare, Mountain, and Bear Lake people), whose lands stretch west and north of Great
Bear Lake, which in their own language is also referred to as Sahtu. In conjunction with the Mtis of
the region, the Sahtu Dene settled their comprehensive land claim in 1993.10 Just south of the Sahtu
claim area is the Dehcho region, occupied by Slavey-speaking Dene. Although their land claim has
yet to be settled, Dehcho territory extends south beyond the Mackenzie River to the
NWT/Alberta/British Columbia borders. Just north and to the west of the Dehcho region are the
territories of the Tlicho Dene. Tlicho lands extend up from Great Slave Lake (or Tindee/Tucho, as the
Dene refer to it) to the NWT/Nunavut border. The Tlicho are the most recent Dene group to settle
their land-claim dispute, which in 2003 became law and includes the first Aboriginal self-government
agreement in the NWT.11 And finally, just south of Tlicho territory is the Akaitcho region, occupied by
the Weledeh (or Yellowknives) and Chipewyan Dene. This region is my home territory and extends
south of Great Slave Lake to the NWT/Albert/Saskatchewan borders and east to Nunavut. Unlike the
other regions noted above, in 1999 our communities decided to pursue our land grievances (which
have yet to be settled) via the specific claims process (through Treaty Land Entitlement, or TLE)
instead of the comprehensive claims route.12 Although vastly separated in terms of geography, all of
the Dene nations occupying these regions speak related dialects of the Northern Athapaskan language
family, and historically they shared many similarities in terms of spiritual beliefs, legal orders, forms
of governance, and economic systems.
The 1950s and 60s witnessed several profound changes in the economic and political landscape of
Denendeh, all of which would come to shape the character of Dene activism in the decades to follow.
During this period, many Dene individuals found themselves having to escalate their involvement in
the cash economy of the emerging settler society due to an increase in the cost of trade goods and a
decrease in the price of furs following World War II.13 As a result, by the 1950s many families had to
supplement income derived from hunting, trapping, and fishing with a combination of paid labor,
welfare, and family allowance. Assuming that the fur trade would never recover from the postwar
recession, the federal government began to initiate policies aimed at forcefully establishing
permanent Dene communities, arguing that this would better facilitate the integration of adult workers
into the wage economy, and at the same time provide a context conducive to educating Native
children in the skills required for attaining menial employment in an emerging capitalist economy.
Even with this being the case, by the late 1960s, the full effects of primitive accumulation had yet to
take hold as a delicate balance was struck between a mode of life sustained by traditional land-based
harvesting activities on the one hand, and income generated from state transfers and seasonal paid
employment on the other.14
The fragile articulation struck in the 1950s and 60s between these two distinct ways of lifethat
of extractivist capitalism and Indigenous hunting/fishing/harvestingwas largely absent in the
political sphere, however, where northern development was occurring in a far more asymmetrical
manner.15 The clearest example of this came in 1967, when Canada announced its plans to transfer the
administrative center of the NWT from Ottawa to Yellowknife, without consulting the majority Native
population. Before this, the sole political authority over issues concerning the NWT rested with the
federal government in Ottawa. After the transfer, the size and power of both the Government of the

Northwest Territories (GNWT) and its non-Native constituency increased dramatically. Between
1967 and 1979, for example, the GNWT grew from 75 to 2,845 employees, roughly 400 more than the
number of federal employees employed in the region.16 During the same period, the operating and
capital budgets of the GNWT rose from $14,584,000 to $282,167,000a near twenty-fold
increase.17 Not surprisingly, the influx of administrative staff and families significantly affected the
areas general population, which jumped from roughly 29,000 to 35,000 between 1966 and 1971.18
As the above numbers indicate, a significant percentage of this increase can be attributed to the newly
formed northern bureaucracy. As the settler population continued to grow, many of the newcomers
began to pressure the federal government to advance northern economic initiatives, most notably in
the form of nonrenewable resource development. As one might expect, all of this would generate
feelings of discontent and alienation within and among our communities, as we soon found ourselves
becoming a numerical minority in our homeland with little influence over issues pertinent to the wellbeing of our land and way of life. As the Dene Nation explained in 1984: Although we [remained]
the majority population in Denendeh [after 1967], we were finding ourselves to have less say in the
administration and laws of our land. Every year more mines were discovered and opened, roads
were built, parks proposed, oil and gas wells drilled, without our consent or often our knowledge.19
From the position of the minority non-Native population, however, the devolution of powers from
Ottawa to Yellowknife seemed to reflect an attempt to foster legitimate and responsible government
north of 60 degrees. This was the position advanced, for example, by the Advisory Commission on
the Development of Government in the Northwest Territories, also known as the Carrothers
Commission. In 1965 the federal government established the commission to investigate local
preferences for political development in the NWT, including the possibility of splitting the district
into two geographical units.20 Over the following year, the commission documented the testimony of
3,039 residents in fifty-one communities across the region.21 In 1966 the commission published its
findings, which suggested that Canada keep the NWT intact, but locate the government of the
Territories within the Territories, to decentralize its operations as far as practicable, to transfer
administrative functions from the central to the territorial government in order that the latter may be
accountable on site for the administration of the public business, and to concentrate on economic
development and opportunity for the residents of the north.22 The following year, Canada responded
to the recommendations by establishing Yellowknife as the territorial capital, and by committing to
more nonrenewable resource development in the area.
Not coincidentally, as the federal government prepared to establish a territorial bureaucracy in
Yellowknife, excitement was mounting over the possibility of future petroleum discoveries off the
northern shores of Canada and the United States.23 As it turned out, the excitement was well founded,
and in 1968 a huge reservoir of oil and natural gas was discovered beneath Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Almost immediately, Canada started fielding plans from a consortium of corporations to construct a
multibillion-dollar pipeline that would transport the gas via the Mackenzie River Valley to markets
throughout southern Canada and the United States.24 As the federal government stated in 1969: From
the first realization of the magnitude of the Prudhoe Bay find, it [had] been considered likely that . . .
gas from the field would . . . find its way to markets in the USA by a pipeline through Canada.25 At
the time, the estimated cost of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline would have established it as the largest
private sector development project in the history of Canada, and quite possibly the world.26
Unfortunately, for the Dene, Inuit, and Mtis of the area, the proposed right-of-way for the pipeline

along with a massive infrastructure of roads, airstrips, camps, gravel pits, storage sites,
stream/river crossings, and gas plantswould cut south across the entire western half of our
homeland.27 All of this meant little to the federal and territorial governments, both of which would at
the time maintain their tradition of ignoring native demands in the north.28 Although the majority of
Dene, Inuit, and Mtis overwhelmingly rejected the idea of an imposed pipeline development from
the outset, these communities were not initially provided with a means to formally voice their
opposition. As Edgar Dosman put it, at the time no channels existed for the articulation of [Native]
concerns. They had no way of knowing what was going on, or what decisions had already been taken.
Yet pipeline and resource decisions would change and probably destroy their traditions and way-oflife.29
The federal governments ability to completely ignore the voices of the Norths Indigenous
population would soon suffer a major setback, however. In 1969, when sixteen Dene chiefs convened
at Fort Smith under the sponsorship of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, it
was decided that the Dene needed a more independent and aggressive political body to represent
their communities concerns. It was at this meeting that leadership established the Indian Brotherhood
of the Northwest Territories, or IB-NWT (renamed the Dene Nation in 1978). The Inuvialuit followed
suit and established the Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement, or COPE, in 1970. In 1971 the
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada was formed to address the concerns of all Inuit in Canada, including those
within the NWT. And finally, in 1972 the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories was set up to
represent the interests of the Mtis and nonstatus Dene population. Although each organization
differed in its specific concerns and visions regarding the scope of northern development, all three
would nonetheless mount a push to defend the interests of Indigenous peoples against the vision of
economic and political expansion that state and industry began to aggressively impose the previous
For the Dene, making such a push would emerge as one of the IB-NWTs first major orders of
business. This culminated in 1973, when Fort Smith chief Franois Paulette, along with fifteen other
chiefs represented by the IB-NWT, filed a caveat with the Northwest Territories Registrar of Land
Titles, claiming a Dene interest in more than one million square kilometers of the NWT.31 The Crown
responded by challenging the Dene right to file the caveat, but later that year Justice William G.
Morrow of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories decided that they had a potentially
legitimate case and at least had a right to be heard.32 In his subsequent decision, Justice Morrow
ruled in favor of the Dene, claiming that the indigenous people had a definite interest in the land
covered by the caveat, and that they have what is known as aboriginal rights.33 More importantly,
however, Morrow concluded that historical evidence suggested that it was unlikely that the Dene had
knowingly extinguished their title to the lands covered by Treaties 8 and 11, which they had
negotiated with the Crown in 1900 and 1921, respectively.34 Although the case was eventually
appealed and subsequently thrown out on a technicality, the questions raised by Justice Morrow
regarding the continued existence of Aboriginal title were never challenged at appeal.
Two major developments arose in the aftermath of this push of early 1970s Native activism. First,
on August 8, 1973, the month before Justice Morrow rendered his decision in Re: Paulette, the
federal government announced its new comprehensive land-claims policy.35 This announcement,
which emerged in the context of heightened Native concerns over the course of northern
industrialization, widespread First Nations resistance to the federal governments 1969 White

Paper on Indian policy, and the Supreme Court of Canadas 1973 Calder decision, essentially
reversed the states fifty-two-year policy of refusing to address Native land grievances where
questions surrounding the existence of Aboriginal title remained open. Because the Dene had
essentially asserted in filing their caveat that they had never extinguished their political rights or legal
title to their traditional territories, despite having signed Treaties 8 and 11, the Crown proceeded
with our claim under its new policy, which was set up to deal with cases based on the assertion of
continuing Aboriginal title to lands and resources. The thrust of the comprehensive claims policy,
which was reaffirmed in 1981, is to exchange the claims to undefined Aboriginal rights for a clearly
defined package of rights and benefits set out in a settlement agreement.36
The second development was the establishment of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, also
known as the Berger Inquiry. Realizing that it could no longer simply disregard the rights of
northern Indigenous peoples, the Crown agreed to sponsor a commission of inquiry to investigate
the environmental and social impacts potentially posed by the construction of the Mackenzie Valley
project. Under political pressure from the New Democratic Party, the Trudeau administration
somewhat reluctantly selected Justice Thomas Bergeran outspoken environmentalist and Native
rights advocateto head the investigation. Beginning in the summer of 1975, the commission traveled
across Canada and the North, recording the statements, opinions and concerns of hundreds of expert
witnesses and nearly a thousand individuals who would likely be affected by the proposed project,
both Native and non-Native. After listening to twenty-one months of testimony, Berger released his
two-volume report, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, which recommended that no pipeline
ever be built along the north slope of the Yukon between Prudhoe Bay and the Mackenzie Delta, and
that a ten-year moratorium be placed on the construction of the Mackenzie Valley project itself, which
would ideally allow time for environmental and Native land claims issues to be resolved.37 Ten years
later, in reflecting on the importance of the Berger Inquiry for highlighting the struggles of Indigenous
peoples, Frances Abele wrote: Probably no royal commission or public inquiry has sustained such a
large and diverse audience, or provoked, years after its conclusion, such strong emotional

That Is Not Our Way: Challenging Colonial Development

By the mid-1970s the Dene had developed a radical analysis of colonial development and effectively
utilized both the IB-NWT and the Berger Inquiry to voice their position. As Peter Usher notes, this
analysis amounted to a fundamental critique of capitalism and industrialization.39 At this point, I
want to return to and further develop a claim I made in my introductory chapter regarding the
difference between the normative foundation underwriting Indigenous anticolonialism and
anticapitalism and that which underwrites similar sentiments within the Western radical tradition,
most notably that of Marxism. There I suggested that, when related back to the two pillars of Marxs
primitive accumulation thesisdispossession and proletarianizationit would appear that in Canada
the history and experience of the former has structured the political relationship between Indigenous
peoples and the state to a greater extent than the latter. I also suggested that the primary experience of
dispossession is what also tends to fuel the most common modes of Indigenous resistance to and
criticism of the colonial relationship itself: that is, Indigenous struggles against capitalist imperialism
are best understood as struggles oriented around the question of landstruggles not only for land, but
also deeply informed by what the land as a mode of reciprocal relationship (which is itself informed

by place-based practices and associated form of knowledge) ought to teach us about living our lives
in relation to one another and our surroundings in a respectful, nondominating and nonexploitative
way. The ethical framework provided by these place-based practices and associated forms of
knowledge is what I call grounded normativity.
In his groundbreaking 1972 text, God Is Red, the late Lakota philosopher Vine Deloria Jr. argues
that one of the most significant differences that exist between Indigenous and Western metaphysics
revolves around the central importance of land to Indigenous modes of being, thought, and ethics.40
When ideology is divided according to American Indian and Western European [traditions], writes
Deloria, this fundamental difference is one of great philosophical importance. American Indians
hold their landsplacesas having the highest possible meaning, and all their statements are made
with this reference point in mind.41 Most Western societies, by contrast, tend to derive meaning from
the world in historical/developmental terms, thereby placing time as the narrative of central
importance.42 Deloria then goes on to conclude: When one group is concerned with the philosophical
problem of space and the other with the philosophical problem of time, then the statements of either
group do not make much sense when transferred from one context to the other without the proper
consideration of what is taking place.43
In drawing our attention to the distinction between Indigenous place-based and Western timeoriented understandings of the world, Deloria does not simply intend to reiterate the rather obvious
observation that most Indigenous societies hold a strong attachment to their homelands, but is instead
attempting to explicate the position that land occupies as an ontological framework for understanding
relationships. Seen in this light, it is a profound misunderstanding to think of land or place as simply
some material object of profound importance to Indigenous cultures (although it is this too); instead, it
ought to be understood as a field of relationships of things to each other.44 Place is a way of
knowing, of experiencing and relating to the world and with others; and sometimes these relational
practices and forms of knowledge guide forms of resistance against other rationalizations of the
world that threaten to erase or destroy our senses of place.45 This, I argue, is precisely the
understanding of land that grounded our critique of colonialism and capitalism in the 1970s and early
1980s. In the Weledeh dialect of Dogrib (which is my communitys language), for example, land (or
d) is translated in relational terms as that which encompasses not only the land (understood here as
material), but also people and animals, rocks and trees, lakes and rivers, and so on.46 Seen in this
light, we are as much a part of the land as any other element. Furthermore, within this system of
relations human beings are not the only constituent believed to embody spirit or agency. Ethically, this
meant that humans held certain obligations to the land, animals, plants, and lakes in much the same
way that we hold obligations to other people. And if these obligations were met, then the land,
animals, plants, and lakes would reciprocate and meet their obligations to humans, thus ensuring the
survival and well-being of all over time.47 Consider, for example, the following story told by the late
George Blondin, a respected Sahtu Dene elder. The tale recounts an experience his brother Edward
had while hunting moose:
Edward was hunting near a small river when he heard a raven croaking, far off to
his left. Ravens cant kill animals themselves, so they depend on hunters and
wolves to kill food for them. Flying high in the sky, they spot animals too far
away for hunters or wolves to see. They then fly to the hunter and attract his

attention by croaking loudly, then fly back to where the animals are.
Edward stopped and watched the raven carefully. It made two trips back and
forth in the same direction. Edward made a sharp turn and walked to where the
raven was flying. There were no moose tracks, but he kept following the raven.
When he got to the riverbank and looked down, Edward saw two big moose
feeding on the bank. He shot them, skinned them, and covered the meat with their
Before he left, Edward put some fat meat out on the snow for the raven. He
knew that without the bird, he wouldnt have killed any meat that day.48
Notice how Blondins narrative not only emphasizes the consciousness and individual agency of the
raven, but also depicts the relationship between the hunter and the bird as mutually interdependent.
The cooperation displayed between Edward and the raven provides a clear example of the ethic of
reciprocity and sharing underlying Dene understandings of their relationship with land.
In the decades leading up to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, it became apparent to many
people within our communities that the organizational imperatives of capital accumulation signified
an affront to our normative understanding of what constituted proper relationshipsrelationships
between people, relationships between humans and their environment, and relationships between
individuals and institutions of authority (whether economic or political). Even though by the mid1970s this grounded normative framework had been worn by decades of colonial displacement, it
was still functioning enough to frame both our critique of capitalist development and our ways of
thinking about how we might establish political and economic relations both within our own
communities and with Canada based on principles of reciprocity and mutual obligation. Not
coincidentally, Peter Kulchyski highlights this spatial feature of Indigenous struggle well in his
excellent book, Like the Sound of a Drum: Aboriginal Cultural Politics in Denendeh and Nunavut,
when he writes: It is possible to argue that precisely what distinguishes anti-colonial struggles from
the classic Marxist accounts of the working class is that oppression for the colonized is registered in
the spatial dimensionas dispossessionwhereas for workers, oppression is measured as
exploitation, as the theft of time.49 I would simply add here that Indigenous ways of thinking about
nonoppressive relations are often expressed with this spatial referent in mind as well.
Any cursory glance at the testimony made by Indigenous participants at the Berger Inquiry clearly
demonstrates the significance of land in our critique of colonial development. One of the most
profound statements of this sort was delivered by Philip Blake, a Dene from Fort McPherson. Notice
the three interrelated meanings of land at play in his narrative: land-as-resource central to our
material survival; land-as-identity, as constitutive of who we are as a people; and land-asrelationship:
If our Indian nation is being destroyed so that poor people of the world might get
a chance to share this worlds riches, then as Indian people, I am sure that we
would seriously consider giving up our resources. But do you really expect us to
give up our life and our lands so that those few people who are the richest and
most powerful in the world today can maintain their own position of privilege?
That is not our way.

I strongly believe that we do have something to offer your nation, however,

something other than our minerals. I believe it is in the self-interest of your own
nation to allow the Indian nation to survive and develop in our own way, on our
own land. For thousands of years we have lived with the land, we have taken
care of the land, and the land has taken care of us. We did not believe that our
society has to grow and expand and conquer new areas in order to fulfill our
destiny as Indian people.
We have lived with the land, not tried to conquer of control it or rob it of its
riches. We have not tried to get more and more riches and power, we have not
tried to conquer new frontiers, or out do our parents or make sure that every year
we are richer than the year before.
We have been satisfied to see our wealth as ourselves and the land we live
with. It is our greatest wish to be able to pass on this land to succeeding
generations in the same condition that our fathers have given it to us. We did not
try to improve the land and we did not try to destroy it.
That is not our way.
I believe your nation might wish to see us, not as a relic from the past, but as a
way of life, a system of values by which you may survive in the future. This we
are willing to share.50
When Blake suggests in his testimony that as Indian people we must reject the pathological drive
for accumulation that fuels capitalist expansion, he is basing this statement on a conception of Dene
identity that locates us as an inseparable part of an expansive system of interdependent relations
covering the land and animals, past and future generations, as well as other people and communities.
For many Natives at the time of the Berger Inquiry, this relational conception of identity was
nonnegotiable; it constituted a fundamental feature of what it meant to be Dene. Furthermore, it also
demanded that we conduct ourselves in accordance with certain ethico-political norms, which
stressed, among other things, the importance of sharing, egalitarianism, respecting the freedom and
autonomy of both individuals and groups, and recognizing the obligations that one has not only to
other people, but to the natural world as a whole.51 I suggest that it was this place-based ethics that
served as the foundation from which we critiqued the dual imperatives of colonial sovereignty and
capitalist accumulation that came to dictate the course of northern development in the postwar period.
In the following section, I show how the same foundation shaped the Dene Nations demand for
recognition and self-determination in the years to follow.

The Dene Declaration: Understanding Indigenous Nationalism

On July 19, 1975, at the second annual Joint General Assembly of the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT
and the Metis and Non-Status Association of the NWT, more than three hundred Indigenous delegates
unanimously voted to adopt what quickly became known as the Dene Declarationa political
manifesto demanding the full recognition of the Dene as a self-determining nation within the
country of Canada.52 In his Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors, Gerald Taiaiake Alfred provides a
theory of Indigenous nationalism useful for developing an understanding of the politicized articulation

of indigeniety called attention to in the Dene Declaration. According to Alfred, Indigenous

expressions of nationhood are best viewed as having both a relatively stable core which endures and
peripheral elements that are easily adapted or manipulated to accommodate the demands of a
particular political environment.53 For Alfred, Indigenous political identities are not based on
clearly delineated essences, nor are they merely invented to correspond with shifting political
aspirations; rather, Indigenous articulations of nationhood are best understood as informed by a
complex of cultural practices and traditions that have survived the onslaught of colonialism and
continue to structure the form and content of Indigenous activism in the present.54 Contrary to many
other forms of nationalism, however, Alfred is quick to point out that most Indigenous movements do
not seek recognition and self-determination through the creation of a new state, but through the
achievement of a cultural sovereignty and a political relationship based on group autonomy reflected
in formal self-government arrangements.55
Dene nationalism during this period can be understood within a similar cultural frameas a
dynamic revival of Dene political concepts framed in a manner to meet the economic and political
goals of contemporary Dene society. To this end, although our movement was firmly grounded in and
motivated by political values and concepts rooted in the relational conception of land noted above, it
also actively incorporated new social and political discourses to supplement these older traditions.56
A number of these discourses were drawn off to articulate our vision of a postcolonial political
relationship with Canada, including, among others, Marxist political economy, world systems
analysis, theories of development and underdevelopment, and Third World anticolonialism.57
Although all of these conceptual tools helped shape, to varying degrees, our views on colonialism
and self-determination, here I want to highlight one that remains particularly salient to this day: the
Marxist concept mode of production.58 In its broadest articulation, mode of production can be
said to encompass two interrelated social processes: the resources, technologies, and labor that a
people deploy to produce what they need to materially sustain themselves over time, and the forms of
thought, behavior, and social relationships that both condition and are themselves conditioned by
these productive forces.59 As the sum of these two interrelated processes, a mode of production can
be interpreted, as Marx himself often did, as analogous to a way or mode of life. A mode of
production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of
individuals, write Marx and Engels in The German Ideology. Rather it is a definite form of activity
of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part.60 I
suggest that this broad understanding of mode of production as a mode of life accurately reflects what
constituted culture in the sense that the Dene deployed the term, and which our claims for cultural
recognition sought to secure through the negotiation of a land claim. Simply stated, in the three
proposals examined below, our demand for recognition sought to protect the intricately
interconnected social totality of a distinct mode of life;61 a life on/with the land that stressed
individual autonomy, collective responsibility, nonhierarchical authority, communal land tenure, and
mutual aid,62 and which sustained us economically, spiritually, socially and politically.63 As George
Barnaby wrote in 1976: The land claim is our fight to gain recognition as a different group of people
with our own way of seeing things, our own values, our own lifestyle, our own laws. . . . [It] is a
fight for self-determination using our own system with which we have survived till now.64
Understanding culture as the interconnected social totality of distinct mode of life encompassing
the economic, political, spiritual, and social is crucial for comprehending the states response to the

challenge posed by our land-claim proposals. As demonstrated in the following section, the state
responded to this challenge, as Fanon himself might have predicted, by structurally circumscribing the
terms and content of the recognition it was willing to make available to us through the negotiation of a
land settlement. As noted previously, the reason the Crown agreed to get into the land-claims business
in the first place was to extinguish the broad and undefined rights and title claims of First Nations
in exchange for a limited set of rights and benefits set out in the text of the agreement itself. In the
1970s, Canada still required the explicit cede, release and surrender of Aboriginal rights and title
prior to the resolution of a settlement, which from the Crowns perspective constituted the surest way
to attain the political and economic certainty required to satisfy the states interest in opening up
Indigenous territories to further economic investment and capitalist development.65 Although the state
no longer requires the formal extinguishment of Aboriginal rights as a precondition to reaching an
agreement, the purpose of the process has remained the same: to facilitate the incorporation of
Indigenous people and territories into the capitalist mode of production and to ensure that alternative
socioeconomic visions do not threaten the desired functioning of the market economy.66 With this
objective firmly in place, both Canada and the NWT insisted on negotiating a land settlement based
on the following two principles: first, that a Dene political claim to self-determination was invalid;
and second, that any settlement reached must attain finality through the extinguishment of what
remained of Dene rights and title in exchange for the institutional recognition and protection of certain
aspects of Dene culture. However, for the state, recognizing and accommodating the cultural
through the negotiation of land claims would not involve the recognition of alternative Indigenous
economies and forms of political authority, as the mode of production/mode of life concept suggests;
instead, the state insisted that any institutionalized accommodation of Indigenous cultural difference
be reconcilable with one political formationnamely, colonial sovereigntyand one mode of
productionnamely, capitalism.

Land Claims and the Domestication of Dene Nationhood

In his 1999 Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements between States
and Indigenous Populations, Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Sub-Commission on the
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities Miguel Alfonso Martinez examines the
myriad techniques and rationales adopted by colonial settler regimes to domesticate the
international status of Indigenous nations, thereby placing their claims squarely under the
exclusive competence of the internal jurisdiction of non-Indigenous nation-states.67 In the
following analysis of the three land-claims proposals submitted to the federal government by the
Dene Nation between 1976 and 1981, it will be shown that, rather than recognize our right to selfdetermination, both the GNWT and the Government of Canada defended within the land-claims
process a depoliticized discourse of Indigenous cultural rights that it used to rationalize the
hegemony of non-Indigenous economic and political interests on Dene territory. In this way, it will be
shown that, from the states perspective, the land-claims process constitutes a crucial vehicle for the
domestication of Indigenous claims to nationhood.
On October 25, 1976, the IB-NWT, under the leadership of Georges Erasmus, provided the federal
government with a land-claim proposal designed to accommodate the robust form of recognition
expressed in the Dene Declaration. The proposal, titled Agreement in Principle between the Dene
Nation and Her Majesty the Queen, in Right of Canada, called upon the federal government to

negotiate with the Dene Nation in accordance with an expansive list of principles, including the
recognition of a Dene right to self-determination; the right to retain ownership of a significant portion
of our traditional territories; the right to exercise political jurisdiction over the territories in question;
the right to practice and preserve our languages, customs, traditions, and values; and the right to
develop our own political and economic institutions. All of these rights, we claimed, would be
exercised within Confederation through the establishment of a Dene government vested with
political authority over land and subject matters currently within the jurisdiction of the federal and
territorial governments.68
Essentially, the 1976 Agreement in Principle outlined in broad terms the foundation for building
a renewed relationship with the state that would secure a degree of Indigenous political and economic
autonomy unprecedented in the history of land-claim settlements in Canada.69 Although the specific
form this autonomy would take remained unspecified in the proposal, a number of statements made
and research reports produced by the Dene during this period suggest that it would look radically
different from the economic and political institutions of the dominant society. In terms of political
development, for example, the IB-NWT emphasized the need to construct contemporary political
institutions on the traditional principle of popular sovereignty and consensus decision-making, thus
including as wide a spectrum of Dene as possible in the formation of government policy.70 This
commitment to the construction of alternative governance forms cashed out politically in 1976, when
the IB-NWT announced that it would officially boycott participating in the territorial government,
arguing that it was a colonial institution that did not represent the perspectives of the Dene people,
and that this was reflected in the style and structure of government itself.71 The boycott lasted until
1979. George Barnaby, one of the two elected Dene officials to resign from territorial politics in
1976 (the other being James Wah-Shee), explained his motivation like this: If we go through a whole
Dene movement and we end up with native people just giving orders to their own people, [then we
will not be] better off than now, when white people order us around. For Barnaby, a true [Dene]
government would be the people themselves deciding what they want and then working together to
achieve their desired goals.72
The principle of direct democracy was to apply to the economic sphere as well. For instance, the
proposal states that a noncolonial economy would not only promote Dene self-sufficiency, but do so
in a manner consistent with our cultural values and way of life. To this end, the claim outlines an
economic vision that would develop a mode of production based on a combination of continued
renewable resource activities, such as hunting, fishing and trapping, as well as community-scale
activities designed to meet our needs in a more self-reliant fashion.73 In the following years a
number of these community-scale activities were discussed and proposed, including a combination
of locally operated manufacturing ventures, Native-run cooperatives, and worker-controlled
At a 1974 Regional Co-Coordinators Workshop, the IB-NWT noted two perspectives on
development that it found compelling. The first was the example of communal enterprise and
development exemplified in the postindependence struggle of Tanzania.75 At one point, the IB-NWT
was even in a conversation with the Kahnawake Office of the Indians of Quebec Association about
sending a delegation of Dene fieldworkers to learn from the Tanzanian experience.76 The second was
drawn from the following observation made by Shuswap activist George Manuel and researcher
Michael Posluns in their book The Fourth World: Real community development can never take

place without economic development, but economic development without full local control is only
another form of imperial conquest.77 In the Agreement in Principle, these economic models were
pitched as culturally relevant alternatives to the externally initiated economy imposed on the Dene
by the state. True Dene development, the IB-NWT argued, [must] entail political control, an
adequate resource base, [and would not] permit a few to gain at the expense of the whole
community. And finally, in keeping with our commitment to strengthening social relations premised
on reciprocity, leadership proposed to structure our relationship with the non-Indigenous population
according to the principle of mutual self-determination.78 Subsequently, the IB-NWT agreed to
uphold the political and existing property rights of all non-Native northerners. However, with regard
to private property, the Dene Nation would only respect fee-simple title to lands acquired before
October 15, 1975; after this date, land would be held in common in accordance with the values and
principles set forth in the proposal.79
The Dene Declaration together with the proposed Agreement in Principle evoked a range of
responses. On the one hand, our communities were greeted with an enormous display of support by
progressive political organizations from across the country, including the Canadian Labor Congress,
the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, Oxfam Canada, the United Steelworkers
of America, and the New Democratic Partys Waffle movement, which was, at the time, known by
many critics for its strident socialism.80
At the same time, however, there were many that were openly hostile to the transformative message
underlying our claim. The then minister of Indian Affairs, Judd Buchanan, for example, dismissed the
Dene Declaration as gobbledegook that a grade ten student could have written in fifteen minutes.81
Even respected Cree leader Harold Cardinal blasted the declaration as an intrusion of left-wing
thinking that is perhaps much closer to the academic community in Toronto than it is to the Dene.82
Much of the criticism leveled at the IB-NWT during this period expressed a similar sentiment,
namely, that Dene leadership had been manipulated by white southern radicals and were therefore not
acting in the interests of their own constituencies. As one Edmonton Report columnist wrote, A
bewildered Canada [is] gradually waking up to the fact that a radical socialist philosophy [has] taken
hold of the native peoples in the Mackenzie Valley. How is it that these territorial natives whose
politics up until now were generally considered non-existent should suddenly emerge with such
advanced left-wing inclinations?83 The public expressed a similar point of view. As one gentleman
stated to the Berger Inquiry: Most of [the] hollering . . . done by the Indian Brotherhood . . . [has
been directed] by whites, not the majority of Indians. . . . [The Dene] figured they made a real good
deal [with Treaty 11] and until the Indian Brotherhood with white backing started stirring things up,
there wasnt any problem.84 The Government of the Northwest Territories added to the hysteria by
suggesting that the Indian Brotherhood should be renamed the Radical Left.85 At one point, there
were even rumors circulating across the North that some of our community members were being
trained in tactics of guerrilla warfare,86 and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had
employed undercover operatives to infiltrate the Brotherhood.87 These racist, McCarthy-like
accusations held a great deal of currency for many non-Natives during the 1970s and into the early
Aside from allegations of left-extremism, most government officials rejected the Dene position
based on the view that it violated the liberal value of equality underwriting universal representation
within Canadian political institutions. Initially the most vocal proponent of this argument was the

GNWT Legislative Assembly, which expressed its concerns in a position paper titled Priorities of
the North, submitted to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in May of
1977.89 The paper explicitly denounced the Dene claim, arguing that it would amount to the
establishment of an exclusionary, indeed race-based, jurisdiction in northern Canada. In the words
of the legislative assembly: This is why the native state concept is, and always will be, totally
unacceptable to the people of the Northwest Territories; because it lacks the necessary element of
universality of participation in political institutions by any Canadian who chooses to live in the
[Northwest] Territories.90
In response to the GNWTs repeated charge of racism, the IB-NWT submitted a second proposal to
the federal government in July of 1977.91 Like its predecessor, the Metro Proposal stressed the
importance of recognition and self-determination for the Dene Nation. However, appreciating that
many people had misinterpreted our Agreement in Principle as discriminatory, the IB-NWT
sought to make it clear in the new claim that it was seeking self-determination not only for the
Dene, but for all citizens of the North, and an end to racial oppression as such, whether it be the
oppression of Dene by non-Dene, or oppression of non-natives by Dene.92
To accommodate this vision, the Metro Proposal recommended that the North adopt a decentralized
federative structure based on the following principles: that the NWT be divided into three
geographical territories, one where the Dene are a majority, one where the Inuit are a majority, and
finally one where the non-native people are the majority; that each of these three territories uphold
the political rights of all of its citizens through the establishment of government institutions based on
each groups respective traditions and in accordance with the desires and aspirations of their
respective constituencies; that each territorial government divide powers and relate with the federal
government in a manner similar to the current federal or provincial relationship; and that a Metro or
United Nations governance structure be organized by the three new governments to deal with
matters, issues, and programs of common concern. Under this model, each newly established
government would be responsible for sending representatives to negotiate as equals with those
from the other governments until an agreement was reached on any joint activity.93 And finally, in
accordance with Dene custom, economic relations within our proposed territory would not be
dictated by the reign of capital; rather, all economic principles and values set forth in the previous
Agreement in Principle would to apply to the new proposal as well.
It was at this point that the state began to counter our position with a depoliticized conception of
Aboriginal cultural rights divorced from any substantive notion of Indigenous sovereignty or
alternative political economies. In Priorities of the North, for example, the GNWT argued that land
claims ought to be used as a mechanism to secure the recognition and protection of Aboriginal
cultural interests, but only if the state agreed to separate the negotiation of political rights to selfdetermination from the process. To this end, the Assembly proposed that a Native Bill of Rights be
written into the constitution of the NWT. This would serve two purposes: first, it would crystallize
the rights of Native people with respect to their traditional use and enjoyment of the land; and
second, it would function to preserve native languages and cultures in some form of immutable
The federal government advanced a similar position its 1977 opinion paper, Political
Development in the Northwest Territories.95 The Political Development paper was to serve as
detailed terms of reference to guide the newly appointed Special Representative for Constitutional

Development in the Northwest Territories, Charles (Bud) Drury.96 Like the legislative assembly, the
federal government stated that it would be willing to use land claims as a vehicle to safeguard
Aboriginal culture and enable Aboriginal people and communities to pursue their traditional
practices to the extent that they may wish to do so.97 Subsequently, Canada would agree to work
closely with Native groups to develop programs within a number of areas, including education,
housing, and economic development, as well as the protection and promotion ofother cultural
interests, including Indian and Inuit languages and rights to traditional activities such as hunting,
fishing and trapping.98 In securing these rights, however, the federal government insisted that it
would not endorse a call for the establishment of political jurisdictions allocated on grounds that
differentiate between people on the basis of race.99 Instead, Ottawa directed Drury to consider the
possible division of the Northwest Territories on the basis of functional issues, including
economic, socio-cultural, and other relevant factors, but excluding political divisions and
structures configured along Indigenous/non-Indigenous lines.100 Thus, if the Dene wanted to
participate in the constitutional development of the northern political apparatus, they would have to
do so at a local and subordinate level within the common and presumably legitimate institutions of the
NWT.101 In short, for both the GNWT and the Government of Canada, cultural rights, not political
rights, constituted the core issue to be resolved in the settlement of a Dene land claim.
In terms of political economy, both levels of government sought to tease apart the recognition of
Indigenous cultural practices from any socioeconomic scheme that might potentially disrupt the further
accumulation of capital through the development of the Norths resource base. The GNWT, for
example, simply asserted that the long term economic development of the Northwest Territories will
almost certainly depend on the further exploration and utilization of its natural resource[s].102
Recognizing the cultural claims of First Nations would be permitted, but only insofar as these claims
could be reconciled with this predominantly private enterprise mode of organization.103 In a similar
vein, the federal government suggested that while land claims would provide native groups with
financial compensation for any infringement of their property rights, Canadas national interest
dictated that the Crown maintain its ownership and control of the potentially significant nonrenewable resources in the Northwest Territories. And regarding the intensity of northern capitalist
development, the Crown, like the Legislative Assembly, declared that business would continue
unabated: In view of the energy and other resource requirements that are now recognized as
becoming increasingly urgent, the Government wishes to maintain some momentum in the exploration
and development of northern non-renewable resource[s]. Land claims, according to the Crown,
would better enable the Dene to play a part in this process, but in no way would they provide the
economic and political infrastructure necessary to block or effectively cultivate a nonexploitative
alternative to it.104
Instead of participating in Drurys investigation, the Dene Nation agreed to collaborate with the
Metis Association of the NWT to construct a joint settlement claim that they provided the federal
government in 1981. The proposal, titled Public Government for the People of the North, called for
a transfer of power to a province-like jurisdiction named Denendeh.105 Although the Dene/Mtis
refrained from invoking the explicit language of self-determination common to the previous two
claims, the spirit of the document remains much the same. It demands, for instance, that sovereignty be
distributed between Denendeh and the federal government in a manner similar to the current
distribution of provincial and federal powers, although in some areas, such as fisheries, family
relations, communications, and labor relations, Denendeh would require powers currently claimed by

the federal government. The rationale here is that these areas are crucial for the protection and further
development of the Dene way of life.106 It also calls for a significant return of the Dene peoples
traditional territory, which the Dene would retain the right to use, own, and manage collectively. Most
remaining lands, with the exception of existing private property, would be allocated to the
Government of Denendeh and remain under its jurisdictional authority.
Structurally speaking, Denendeh would be province-like and consist of two levels of
government: a public territorial level, called the National Assembly of Denendeh, and regional
governments at the community level.107 Denendeh would be unlike provinces in other ways, however.
For instance, the Dene again recommended that a direct democracy or consensus approach to
political decision-making be instituted at both the local and territorial levels.108 This was pitched as a
culturally appropriate alternative to the elitist and adversarial form of government imposed on
northerners from the South. Also, to protect the political rights and freedoms of Dene citizens in
perpetuity, the Dene/Mtis proposed that a senate be established as a second chamber of the public
National Assembly with guaranteed Dene representation.109 In order to protect the interests of
everyone, however, the Dene/Mtis proposed that a ten-year residency period be implemented, after
which full political rights of all Denendeh citizens would be respected. But regardless of any
residency requirement, the Government of Denendeh would be responsible for respecting the
fundamental human rights and freedoms of all its citizens, particularly the rights outlined in sections
18, 19, 21, and 22 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of
which Canada is a signatory.110
In terms of economic development, Denendeh would also operate unlike the provinces in a number
of key ways. For example, the document suggests that all land and resource development adhere to
standards set forth in a Charter of Founding Principles, which would emphasize, among other
things, maintaining a harmonious relationship between the Dene and the physical environment.111
Thus, the Dene/Mtis stated that natural resource use would be determined on the basis of a
conserver society with a firm commitment to renewables. Once again, building a contemporary
economy committed to the traditional practice of harvesting and manufacturing renewable resources
would form a significant aspect of economic development within the new territory. However, in
circumstances where the exploration and development of Denendehs nonrenewable resource base
might be permitted to continue, this activity would only be allowed if it promised to ensure the wellbeing of the people and resources of Denendeh as a whole, as opposed to the economic benefit of
the developers. And to ensure economic self-sufficiency, the Dene/Mtis proposed that 10 percent of
all resource revenues derived in the territory be collected and paid into a Dene Heritage Fund
managed by the Dene through the framework of the proposed senate. Remaining profits extracted
through rents taken from nonrenewable resource outfits would be redirected back into programs
aimed at bolstering the renewable resource sector, be used to cover the operating budgets of the
Denendeh government at both the community and territorial levels, and to repay the federal
government for its assistance in the delivery of unemployment insurance benefits, family allowances,
and so on. Also like its predecessors, the proposal suggests that all private property rights be
respected for lands acquired before the implementation of the agreement, although after this date, the
Government of Denendeh would grant property titles solely through long-term leases and hold
remaining lands in common for the benefit of all Denendeh citizens.112
Reaction to the Denendeh proposal varied. Some people were outraged at the proposed agreement,
suggesting that it would provide too much protection for Dene rights and interests while ignoring

those of the Norths non-Native population.113 One of the studies prepared for the federal
governments Special Committee on Constitutional Development even suggested that the proposals
recommended restrictions on private property could be interpreted as violating what many
northerners had come to consider an inalienable right to own property.114 Others, however, viewed
the proposal as a unique opportunity to be a part of something exciting, a chance for all people of the
north to join together and build a new style of government.115

In the end, the federal government remained one of the principal detractors of the Denendeh proposal.
Unlike the position outlined in its own comprehensive claims policy, the Dene/Mtis adamantly
rejected the idea that Indigenous peoples must surrender or exchange their political rights and title as
a prerequisite to reaching a land settlement. Maintaining this position caused negotiations to drag on
until 1988, when, finally, a new Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) was reached between the Dene
Nation, the Metis Association, and the Government of Canada. The new AIP offered the claimants
ownership of over 181,000 square kilometres of land, with subsurface rights for approximately
10,000 kilometres of it, and a payment of $500 million over fifteen years as compensation for lost
land use in the past.116 To reach the AIP stage, however, the Crown required two things. The first
was that the recognition of Indigenous political rights be removed from the negotiation table. This
essentially meant that the Dene Nation dropped its previous insistence, articulated in the Dene
Declaration and the three claims examined above, that a substantive right to self-government form a
fundamental component of any land deal. Second, the AIP required the Dene/Mtis to agree to cede,
release and surrender any residual Aboriginal rights and title to the remaining lands of the Northwest
Territories. Negotiators for the Dene/Mtis thus conceded that, if reached, a comprehensive claim
would inevitably involve an exchange of Aboriginal land rights for a clearly defined set of
land-related and land based-rights.117 At this point, however, those involved in the negotiations
refused to see this as an extinguishment of their political rights, which they would continue to
negotiate through other forums.118
On April 9, 1990, two years after community negotiators agreed to sign the new AIP, Indigenous
representatives from across Denendeh convened at a special general assembly held in Fort Rae
where they initialed a final agreement that included an extinguishment clause but excluded a selfgovernment component. In July of the same year, a motion was passed at another general assembly,
this time held in Dettah, to have aboriginal and treaty rights affirmed, not extinguished, in the
comprehensive claim agreement.119 In the end, the majority of delegates voted to affirm the motion
and in doing so rejected the Dene/Mtis Final Agreement. No doubt frustrated with the nonnegotiable
nature of the Crowns position, Gwichin representatives opposed the majority decision and formally
withdrew from the general assembly. Following their lead, the Sahtu withdrew from the claim several
weeks later. The Crown officially stopped funding the Dene Nations claims secretariat after the
withdrawal of the Gwichin and Sahtu and instead offered to negotiate with these groups
independently. In 1992 the Gwichin, and in 1993 the Sahtu along with the Mtis, extinguished their
political rights and title by signing comprehensive agreements with Canada. These settlements
signified the official end of an at times tenuous and fragile (but nonetheless unified) Dene national
self-determination movement.120
Northern Indigenous perspectives on economic development began to shift significantly during this

period as well. This shift was exemplified most clearly with the backing of diamond mega-mining
projects by the Tlicho and Yellowknives Dene First Nation in the late 1990s, and again, in 2000, with
the establishment of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group (APG), which represents the interests of most
Dene regions in the NWT (excluding the Dehcho) and has since negotiated an agreement to purchase a
one-third share in the newly proposed Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP). The MGP, like the proposed
Mackenzie Valley Pipeline before it, promises to be one of the largest and costliest pipeline projects
in the history of Canada.121
What is perhaps most interesting about the newest incarnation of the Mackenzie pipeline project is
that many of the young Dene activists who opposed it in the 1970s are now either active supporters or
founding members of the APG. Former Fort Good Hope chief Frank TSeleie has explained his
change in perspective like this:
You know, the world has changed a lot over the last 25 years. Were now masters
of our own house in many ways. Many of us have settled our land claims and we
have the power to make sure this pipeline is done the right way. Sure, I feel
uneasy in some ways about promoting this. This gas is going to go south, maybe
not today or tomorrow. But it is going to go, and I dont think we can afford to be
left out.122
If primitive accumulation represents the process of dispossession through which noncapitalist
social relations are transformed or integrated into market ones, then it would appear that this
phenomenon has gained considerable momentum in the North over the last few decades. Although
primitive accumulation no longer appears to require the openly violent dispossession of Indigenous
communities and their entire land and resource base, it does demand that both remain open for
exploitation and capitalist development. To my mind, a number of interrelated considerations have to
be taken into account to figure out why this has emerged as the case in the North, and I would like to
conclude by highlighting two of them. The first involves a significant transformation in the discourse
of sustainable development over the last fifteen years. As Stuart Kirsch has argued, one of the most
pressing challenges faced by Indigenous peoples has been the speed with which capital now
appropriates the terms of its critique.123 Any visit to the North will unequivocally demonstrate the
degree to which state and industry have been able to coopt the discourse of sustainability to push
their shared vision of economic development. Unlike the discourse of sustainability underwriting the
Dene claims examined above, which sought to establish political and economic relations that would
foster the reciprocal well-being of people, communities and the land over time, sustainability now
refers primarily to the economic sustainability of capital accumulation itself. The longer the projected
lifespan of a proposed projectthat is, the longer period that a project proposes to exploit a
communitys land, resources, and labor, the more sustainable it is said to be.
The second involves Fanons concern regarding the ways in which the field of recognition politics
can modify the subject positions of Indigenous people and communities over time. Aside from the
inevitable debt trap that land claims lock many First Nations into, which can in turn compel these
communities to open up their settlement lands to exploitation as an economic solution,124 it appears
that the land-claims process itself has also served to subtly shape how Indigenous peoples now think
and act in relation to the land. As Paul Nadasdy suggests in his work with the Kluane First Nation in

the Yukon, to engage in the process of negotiating a land-claim agreement, First Nations people must
translate their complex reciprocal relationship with the land into the equally complex but very
different language of property.125 I would suggest that one of the negative effects of this powerladen process of discursive translation has been a reorientation of the meaning of self-determination
for many (but not all) Indigenous people in the North; a reorientation of Indigenous struggle from one
that was once deeply informed by the land as a system of reciprocal relations and obligations
(grounded normativity), which in turn informed our critique of capitalism in the period examined
above, to a struggle that is now increasingly for land, understood now as material resource to be
exploited in the capital accumulation process.

Essentialism and the Gendered Politics of Aboriginal SelfGovernment
[T]heorists who advocate a politics of difference, fluidity and hybridity in order to challenge the binaries of
essentialism . . . have been outflanked by strategies of power.
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire

In this chapter I explore in detail the second cluster of concerns often associated with the politics of
recognition briefly identified in my introductory chapter. These criticisms have tended to focus on the
empirically problematic and normatively suspect character of recognition claims based on
essentialist articulations of collective identity. According to social constructivist proponents of this
line of critique, when claims for cultural accommodation are grounded on essentialist expressions of
group identity they can too easily be deployed to justify repressive and authoritarian demands for
group compliance on the one hand, or sanction unjust practices of exclusion and marginalization on
the other. Without certain guaranteed rights and state institutional mechanisms in place to ensure that
problematic cultural norms and practices remain open to democratic deliberation and group
contestation, it has been argued that the self-determining status of subaltern individuals within
minority groupsespecially women and childrenwill remain at risk.
Recognizing that social constructivist critiques of the politics of culture and identity encompass a
vast range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, in this chapter I will focus more narrowly on
the work of political theorist Seyla Benhabib, whose contribution represents what I see as an
important yet problematic attempt to bridge the gap between the insights afforded by social
constructivist theory and what she views as the deliberative norms and processes that ought to guide
and frame democratic practice.1 In doing so, I argue that Benhabibs anti-essentialist critique works
in concert with a statist feature of her deliberative democratic theory, which functions to inadvertently
sanction colonial hierarchies. This argument can be broken into the following two claims. First, I
contend that when examined through the lens of Indigenous peoples struggles, Benhabibs social
constructivist critique of the politics of recognition tends to not only overestimate the emancipatory
potential of anti-essentialist criticism, but more importantly it also fails to address the full breadth of
power relations that often serve to proliferate exclusionary and authoritarian community practices and
articulations of identity to begin with. In this regard, I align my work with the growing number of
scholars who have begun to critically interrogate anti-essentialist criticism when uniformly applied to
a range of conceptually distinct and power-laden contexts.2
My second claim is directed more squarely at the statist character of Benhabibs deliberative
democratic critique of the politics of recognition. Here I contend that when anti-essentialist theories
of cultural identity are projected as a universal feature of social life and then employed as a
justificatory measure for evaluating the legitimacy of claims for recognition within and against the
uncontested authority of the colonial state, they can inadvertently sanction the very types of
domination and inequality that both social constructivist and deliberative democratic projects ought to

mitigate. This is especially the case with respect to Indigenous claims for recognition, which often
throw into question, either implicitly or explicitly, the legitimacy of the states assumed role as arbiter
in contestations over recognition.
This chapter is organized into four sections. The first section provides a brief sketch of the
constructivist critique of the politics of recognition Benhabib offers in The Claims of Culture:
Equality and Diversity in the Global Era. As with my previous engagement with Charles Taylor in
chapter 1, although I focus largely on Benhabibs work here, many of the conclusions reached in this
section are by no means limited to her contribution alone. In the second section, I provide a history of
Indigenous womens struggle against sexist provisions of the Indian Act and an examination of the
ways in which this history of struggle informed an Indigenous feminist critique of the gendered
dynamics underwriting the decade-long (198292) effort of mainstream Aboriginal organizations to
secure a constitutional right to the self-government in Canada. In the next section, I argue that,
although Benhabib is correct to highlight the ways in which preservationist claims to cultural
recognition can and have been used by male segments of colonized societies to justify oppressive
gender practices, her critique fails to adequately address the colonial context within which these
practices have come to flourish. And finally, in the last section, I argue that insofar as Benhabibs
theory uncritically positions the colonial state as a legitimate adjudicator of Indigenous recognition
claims, her argument is itself ironically premised on the racist/essentialist assumption that Indigenous
peoples were so uncivilized at the time of European contact that they did not constitute selfdetermining subjects in relation to the states that eventually asserted sovereignty over them.

Social Constructivism and Deliberative Democracy

Benhabibs The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era sets out to establish a
model of deliberative democracy that is capable of accommodating universal demands for individual
freedom and equality along with identity-specific demands for the recognition of cultural difference.
According to Benhabib, the task of those who are simultaneously committed to a politics that values
both cultural diversity and democratic equality should be to create impartial institutions in the
public sphere and civil society where [the] struggle for recognition of cultural differences and the
contestation of cultural narratives can take place without domination.3 In order to accomplish this
task, Benhabib insists that one reject claims for recognition founded on essentialist and therefore
potentially authoritarian conceptualizations of culture and group identity: Intercultural justice
between human groups should be defended in the name of justice and freedom and not of an elusive
preservation of cultures.4 Identity movements that do seek to preserve the purity or distinctiveness
of cultures, Benhabib boldly asserts, are simply irreconcilable with both democratic and more
basic epistemic considerations.5
Benhabib opens her critique by challenging the empirical foundation upon which most
contemporary theories of mosaic multiculturalism are basedwhat she terms the reductionist
sociology of culture.6 Quoting the work of Terrance Turner, Benhabib contends that advocates of this
form of multiculturalism often embrace a simplistic and sharply delineated conception of cultural
identity, which, when institutionalized in the form of public policy risks essentializing the idea of
culture as the property of an ethnic group or race; it risks reifying cultures as separate entities by over
emphasizing the internal homogeneity of cultures in terms that potentially legitimize repressive
demands for communal conformity; and by treating cultures as badges of group identity, it tends to

fetishize them in ways that put them beyond the reach of critical analysis.7 Beyond potentially
legitimizing these repressive practices, Benhabib claims that the reductionist approach yields a
number of other illiberal consequences, including (1) the drawing of too rigid and firm boundaries
around cultural identities; (2) the acceptance of the need to police these boundaries to regulate
internal membership and authentic life-forms; (3) the privileging of the continuity and preservation
of cultures over time as opposed to their reinvention, reappropriation, and even subversion; and (4)
the legitimation of culture-controlling elites through a lack of open confrontation with their cultures
inegalitarian and exclusionary practices.8
In contradistinction to this reductionist approach, Benhabib draws on the work of Homi Bhabha
and others to defend a constructivist view of identity in which all cultures constitute fluid systems of
meaning and representation that are continually constructed and reconstructed through complex
dialogues and interactions with other cultures.9 Cultures are thus fluid, porous, and contested
phenomena, which are internally riven by conflicting narratives.10 Benhabib assures us, however,
that this position is not meant to imply that cultures are unreal or fictional entities: Cultural
differences run very deep and are very real, insists Benhabib, the imagined boundaries between
[cultures] are not phantoms in deranged minds; [they] can guide human action and behaviour as well
as any other cause of human action.11
Also unlike the reductionist perspective, Benhabib aligns justice in multicultural and multinational
contexts not in terms of cultural preservation or autonomy, but rather with the inclusion of
traditionally marginalized groups into a widening democratic dialogue with the citizenry, cultures,
and institutions of the surrounding society. In order to facilitate this robust form of inclusion,
Benhabib proposes a dual track model of deliberative democracy that stresses maximal cultural
contestation in the public sphere, as well as the institutions and associations of civil society. So
long as recognition-based claims adhere to the constructivist/inclusion paradigm and allow for the
contestability of cultural norms, practices, and boundaries in and through the institutional matrix of
civil society and the state, then certain forms of legal pluralism and institutional power sharing
through regional and local parliaments can and ought to be accommodated.12 To ensure that pluralist
institutional arrangements meet this standard, Benhabib proposes a baseline of three normative
conditions that ought to be met by any cultural group seeking recognition and accommodation. These
conditions are:
egalitarian reciprocity. Members of cultural, religious, linguistic, and other minorities must not, in virtue of their
membership status, be entitled to lesser degrees of civil, political, economic, and cultural rights than the majority.
voluntary self-ascription. In consociationalist or federative multicultural societies, an individual must not be automatically
assigned to a cultural, religious, or linguistic group by virtue of his or her birth. An individuals group membership must
permit the most extensive form of self-ascription and self-identification possible. There will be many cases when such
self-identifications may be contested, but the state should not simply grant the right to define and control membership to
the group at the expense of the individual; it is desirable at some point in their adult lives individuals be asked whether
they accept their continuing membership in their cultural communities of origin.
freedom of exit and association. The freedom of the individual to exit the ascriptive group must be unrestricted, although
exit may be accompanied by the loss of certain kinds of formal and informal privileges. However, this wish of individuals
to remain group members, even while out marrying, must not be rejected; accommodations must be found for intergroup marriages and the children of such marriages.13

After outlining these normative requirements Benhabib concludes that, although cultural groups may
not be able to survive as distinct entities under these conditions, securing them is nonetheless
necessary if legal pluralism in liberal-democratic states is to achieve the goals of cultural diversity
as well as democratic equality, without compromising the rights of women and children.14 Under
Benhabibs deliberative model, only demands for recognition that adhere to the above standards and
do not deny the contestability of cultural norms and practices can ensure the well-being of individual
group members.15 Here the cultural preservationist impulses of essentialism are clearly portrayed as
overly restrictive and rigid, while the inclusive domain of social constructivism is cast as democratic
and emancipatory.

Indigenous Women, Gender Discrimination, and Aboriginal SelfGovernment: A History

Before 1985 all federally registered First Nations women who married non-Native men were forced
to relinquish their Indian status under sexist provisions of the federal governments 1876 Indian
Act.16 Like many aspects of Canadian Indian policy, the states gendered criteria for determining who
is eligible to claim Indian status under the law predates Canadian confederation. In 1850,
definitions of status were generally broad in scope and included any person of Indian birth or blood,
any person reputed to belong to a particular group of Indians, and any person married to an Indian or
adopted into an Indian family.17 With respect to those individuals who acquired status through
marriage, this early definition stated that any non-Aboriginal or nonstatus women who married a
status male would herself acquire status, but the same was not true for non-Aboriginal men married to
status women. Although the 1850 legislation did not yet lay out the terms under which a status woman
could expect to lose her status for marrying a nonstatus man, it nonetheless established for the first
time a definition of Indian that was tightly associated with patrilineal descent.18
In the years to follow, state-sanctioned gender discrimination within the field of Indian policy
would escalate dramatically. For instance, under provisions of the 1869 Act for the Gradual
Enfranchisement of Indians, status Indian women were legally excluded from the right to receive
inheritances from their husbands, they were denied the right to vote and participate in formal band
politics, and they could be declared enfranchised without consent upon the enfranchisement of their
husbands; finally, Section 6 of the Gradual Enfranchisement Act stated that any status woman who
married a nonstatus man would lose all rights and benefits commonly associated with membership in
a federally recognized Indian community, including the rights to reside on reserve and receive housing
there, federally subsidized health care, postsecondary education, and so on.19 All of these sexist
provisions were incorporated into Canadas Indian Act in 1876.
Although First Nations women have always resisted the states attempt to dispossess them of their
rights to land and community membership, it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that their
efforts began to gain national coverage, if not success. This period witnessed the establishment of
organizations such as Indian Rights for Indian Women (incorporated in 1970) and the Native Womens
Association of Canada (incorporated in 1974), both of which would help advance the fight of Native
women against the patriarchal structure of Indian legislation. In particular, these groups were
instrumental in organizing enfranchised Native women around questions of gender equality and
political empowerment at the local, national, and international levels. Three foundational legal

challenges emerged from this period of Indigenous womens activism: (1) Lavell v. Canada in 1971;
(2) Bdard v. Isaac in 1972; and (3) Lovelace v. Canada in 1981.20
The first two legal challenges sought to force a repeal of the sexist provisions of the Indian Act by
challenging in court their lack of conformity with Canadas 1960 Bill of Rights. In Lavell v. Canada
this involved a challenge to Section 12 (1) (b) of the Indian Actthe provision containing the
infamous marrying out clause. In his decision, Judge Grossberg of the Ontario County Court ruled
against Lavell, arguing that in losing the limited rights and benefits associated with Indian status
Lavell had acquired the full and equal rights of Canadian citizenship, thus rendering her charge of
discrimination obsolete. In Grossbergs words: In my view . . . the equality which should be sought
and assured to the appellant upon her marriage is equality with all other Canadian married females.
The appellant has such equality. The appellant has [therefore] not been deprived of any human rights
or freedoms contemplated by the Canadian Bill of Rights.21 The second case involved Yvonne
Bdard, a Mohawk woman whose band sought to evict her and children from a house bestowed to her
by her mother. Bdard argued in court that the only reason the band could legally claim the right to do
so was because she had married a nonstatus man and thus lost her status and the associated right to
live on reserve, which she claimed contravened the gender equality provisions outlined in the Bill of
Rights. In the end, both Lavell and Bdard lost their cases at the federal level but were successful at
gaining appeals, and their claims were eventually heard simultaneously by the Supreme Court of
During the period leading up to the Supreme Courts decision, Lavell and Bdard were subject to
ruthless criticism within First Nations communities and by mainstream First Nations political
organizations. As Lenape scholar Joanne Barker notes, in making their stand both women were
routinely accused of being complicit and even conspiring with the kinds of colonialist,
assimilationist, and racist ideologies propagated by government bureaucrats and Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) administrators.23 In particular, the two womens
appeals to baseline feminist norms regarding gender equality rights were often included as evidence
of the culturally inauthentic character of their concerns. As Barker describes: Demonizing an
ideology of rights perceived to be based on selfish individualism and personal entitlement, and
damned for being womens libbers out to force bands into compliance with this ideology, the
women and their concerns and experiences of discriminatory and violent sexist practices within their
communities were dismissed as embodying all things not only non- but anti-Indian. Indian womens
experiences, perspectives, and political agendas for reform were perceived as not only irrelevant but
dangerous to Indian sovereignty movements.24 The perceived culture clash between the individual
rights of Native women and the collective rights of First Nations communities to recognition and selfdetermination led organizations like the National Indian Brotherhood (renamed the Assembly of First
Nations in 1982) to intervene against Lavell and Bdard in their cases, arguing with the Attorney
General of Canada that the Indian Act ought to supersede subsequent legislation, including the gender
equality stipulations outlined in the Canadian Bill of Rights.25
In March of 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Lavell and Bdard in a 54 decision,
and in doing so upheld the patriarchal criterion for determining Indian status under Section 12 (1) (b)
of the Indian Act. Among the numerous points made in his majority decision, Justice Ritchie argued
that equality before the law under the Bill of Rights means equality of treatment in the enforcement
and application of the laws of Canada before the enforcement authorities and the ordinary Courts of
the land, and that no such inequality is necessarily entailed in the construction and application of

s. 12 (1) (b).26 On this point, Justice Ritchie concurred with the lower court decision of Judge
Grossberg, whom we recall argued that Lavells charge of discrimination was unsubstantiated given
that in losing her Indian status she had acquired the full and equal benefits of Canadian citizenship.
The second significant point made in the decision was that the Bill of Rights should not be allowed to
render inoperative the federal governments constitutional authority to legislate with respect to
Indian and lands reserved for Indians as dictated by Section 91 (24) of the BNA Act of 1867.27
Sandra Lovelace, a Maliseet woman from the reserve community of Tobique, New Brunswick,
mounted the next major legal intervention, but this time at the international level. Lovelaces efforts
initially began in the 1970s as part of a community-wide struggle to address her reserves escalating
housing and homelessness crisis.28 At issue during this period were the ways in which the Tobique
band council had interpreted Indian Act legislation to exclude community women from acquiring
property on reserve.29 Over time, however, the intolerable living conditions experienced by the
women of Tobique coalesced into a movement to change the Indian Act itself.30 Because Lovelace had
lost her status after marrying a nonstatus man, when she returned to the reserve with her children after
her divorce the band was unwilling to provide her with access to housing. Women in the community
began to mobilize around the Lovelace case, which in the winter of 1977 was brought to the United
Nations Human Rights Committee.31 In her complaint, Lovelace argued that Section 12 (1) (b) of the
Indian Act was noncompliant with Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, which stipulates that in those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist,
persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right to live in community with the other
members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to
use their own language.32
While the United Nations Human Rights Committee was deliberating the case, the women and
Tobique and their supporters initiated another strategy to force attention to the issues faced by Native
women in Canada. In July of 1979, the women organized a hundred-mile walk from Oka, Quebec, to
Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The direct action attracted significant national press coverage, and upon
arrival the women staged a major protest and were able to secure a meeting with the prime minister
and several cabinet members. The protest resulted in the federal government committing $300,000
toward womens reserve housing in Tobique, although some have questioned whether the money ever
reached those most in need.33 Finally, on July 30, 1981, the Committee rendered a decision in favour
of Lovelace, ruling that Section 12 (1) (b) indeed violated Article 27 on the grounds that it denied
Lovelace the right to live in her community of culture.34
The timing of the United Nations decision in Lovelace v. Canada did not reflect well on the
Canadian state. At the time, Canada was immersed in the process of repatriating its Constitution from
England, and the proposed repatriation package was to include a Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms that would constitutionally entrench, among other things, gender equality rights. This
eventually led the federal government to repeal the provision of the Indian Act dealing with
outmarriages in 1985. This legislative initiative, known as Bill C-31, coincided with the three-year
grace period within which Canada had to amend all legislation shown to contravene its newly minted
charter. Importantly, the Bill C-31 amendment also states that bands have the right to create their own
membership codes, although this clause requires that any membership rules established by a First
Nation may not deprive current band members or those eligible to have their band membership
reinstated for reasons that occurred before new membership rules were adopted. Following the Bill

C-31 amendment, thousands of enfranchised First Nations women and their children applied to have
their Indian status reinstated. Since the implementation of Bill C-31, however, several First Nations
communities have challenged the right of reinstated women to access to the benefits associated with
band citizenship. As political scientist Joyce Green explains:
Following the 1985 C-31 revisions to the Indian Act, a number of Indian bands
drafted membership codes, pursuant to the revised Indian Act. Some of the codes
are racist and sexist in their effect, and some seem to resurrect the discriminatory
formula of the pre-1985 Indian Act, now presumed as custom. Yet, the 1982
Constitution prohibits discrimination and guarantees aboriginal and treaty rights
equally to men and women. In order to prevent exited women and their children
from being reinstated to their bands of origin, several bands initiated a legal
action arguing that Aboriginal tradition legitimates the exclusion of women where
they married anyone other than a band member, and that this tradition was itself
protected by the constitutional recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights.35
Similar to the ways in which the efforts of Lavell and Bdard were constructed as traitorous to
Indigenous traditions and sovereignty struggles discussed above, here again we see how the gender
equality claims and individual rights of reinstated women and children are pitted against the
collective right of First Nations to determine their own membership. The result, as Green notes, has
been a dismissal of Native womens concerns as untraditional and, by extension, as deleterious to
indigenous liberation.36
The next major cycle of Native womens struggles occurred during the post-1982 debates regarding
the application of gender equality rights to the context of Aboriginal self-government. With the
Constitution Act, 1982 came the recognition of existing aboriginal and treaty rights under Section
35 (1). Part 37 of the Constitution Act, 1982 further stipulated that within a year a constitutional
conference would be held to define the scope of these newly recognized rights, and that Aboriginal
peoples as well as representatives of the Northwest Territories and Yukon would officially join
provincial leaders as part of the negotiation process. There ended up being four of these conferences
held between 1983 and 1987. The first conference, which took place in March of 1983, resulted in
the first amendment to the Constitution Act, 1982. The amendment expanded the definition of existing
aboriginal and treaty rights to include constitutional recognition to those rights and benefits secured
through the negotiation of land claims agreements under Section 35 (3) and to ensure that
constitutional recognition of Aboriginal rights applied equally to male and female persons under
Section 35 (4).
The gender equality provision enshrined in the 1983 amendment did not come about easily. There
were two reasons for this. First, the meeting that resulted in the amendment, as well as the three
constitutional conferences that followed, formally excluded Aboriginal womens organizations from
participating at the negotiating table.37 And second, among the four Aboriginal organizations invited
to participate in the conference (the Assembly of First Nations, the Mtis National Council, the Inuit
Tapirisat of Canada, and the Native Council of Canada), the largest and most powerful, the Assembly
of First Nations, initially refused to endorse the amendment, arguing that it would unduly infringe on
the authority of First Nations to determine membership criteria in light of their own perceptions of
the traditions and needs of Indian people. By the end of the conferences second day, however, the

AFN modified its position, likely because it did not want to be perceived as promoting another
agenda with gender discriminatory implications. Subsequently, on the final day of meetings, the AFN
conceded that it would accept the sexual equality clause on the condition that the issue of citizenship
be left for further discussions.38
The marginalization of Native women and organizations from the 198387 constitutional
conferences on Aboriginal rights would continue well into the era of attempted mega-constitutional
amendments, particularly those that ended in the failed Charlottetown Accord of 1992.39 The
proposed Charlottetown Accord emerged in the ashes of its 1987 predecessor, the Meech Lake
Accord, which was a failed constitutional amendment package negotiated by the then prime minister
of Canada, Brian Mulroney, and the ten provincial premiers. As I discuss in the following chapter, the
Meech Lake Accord represented the federal governments attempt to bring Quebec back in to the
constitutional fold in the wake of the provinces refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the newly
repatriated Constitution Act, 1982. First Nations leaders overwhelmingly opposed the Meech Lake
deal because it failed to recognize the political interests of First Nations. The failure to include
Aboriginal perspectives on a major constitutional overhaul ultimately helped tank the deal. The
Charlottetown Accord picked up where Meech Lake left off, although with an attempt to make the
process more inclusive. After a series of lengthy and intense negotiations, a proposed agreement was
struck on August 28, 1992, between the federal government, the provincial and territorial
governments, and Aboriginal representatives on a proposed series of amendments to the Constitution
Act, 1982. Among other things, the amendment sought to address issues concerning the distinct
status of Quebec within the confederation, the right of Aboriginal peoples to self-government, and
parliamentary reform. In order to curb ongoing public concerns regarding the elitist and exclusionary
character of negotiating major constitutional changes, the terms of the Charlottetown Accord were put
to a national referendum on October 26, 1992, where they were ultimately rejected by a majority of
Canadian voters.
During the negotiation process it became clear that many Aboriginal leaders and organizations
wanted their communities vested with powers of self-government largely unencumbered by Canada,
including its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although the negotiations leading up to the
Charlottetown Accord made it clear that Aboriginal governments would not receive the degree of
unfettered autonomy that many leaders had demanded during the process, in the end a compromise
was reached whereby Aboriginal governments would, like their federal and provincial counterparts,
be granted access to Section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982, otherwise known as the
notwithstanding clause. Access to the notwithstanding clause would provide Aboriginal
governments the power to opt-out of or suspend those provisions of the charter deemed
impediments to self-rule. This led many supporters of the Native Womens Association of Canada to
reject the Charlottetown deal, fearing that some Aboriginal governments might try to call on Section
33 as a means of undercutting the gender equality provisions outlined in the charter. As the Native
Womens Association of Canada explained in 1991:
We are human beings and we have rights that cannot be denied or removed at the
whim of any government. That is how fundamental these individual Charter rights
are. These views are in conflict with many First Nations and legal theoreticians
who advocate for recognition by Canada of sovereignty, self-government and
collective rights. It is their unwavering view that the collective comes first,

and that it will decide the rights of individuals. . . .

We recognize that there is a clash between collective rights of sovereign First
Nations and individual rights of women. Stripped of equality by patriarchal laws
which created male privilege as the norm on reserve lands, First Nations
women have had a tremendous struggle to regain their social position. We want
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to apply to Aboriginal
Considering that Native womens organizations were excluded from participating in the
constitutional negotiations that resulted in the Charlottetown Accord, and that several First Nations
band councils had openly admitted that they were looking for ways to circumvent the obligations
placed on their governments by Bill C-31, including through the invocation of essentialist arguments
based on male-dominated interpretations of culture and tradition, the concerns expressed by the
Native Womens Association of Canada were not without merit. The result, unfortunately, has been a
zero-sum contest pitting the individual human right of Indigenous women to sex equality against the
collective human right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination.

Social Constructivism and Settler-Colonial Patriarchy

As the brief history depicted above indicates, those communities that have argued against the
integration of reinstated First Nations women under Bill C-31 and/or the protection of gender equality
provisions in the context of Aboriginal self-government have tended to rationalize their positions with
reference to interrelated arguments grounded on claims to Indigenous sovereignty and cultural
incommensurability. According to the sovereignty position, the exclusion of First Nations women
reinstated under Bill C-31 is justified on the grounds that First Nations governments, not the colonial
settler state, have the fundamental right to determine in accordance with their own cultures and
political traditions regulations that govern membership in Indigenous communities. At face value, the
sovereignty argument holds significant weight. In contexts such as Canada, where the legitimacy of
Canadian sovereignty has been shown to rest on the problematic assumption that its claimed land base
was terra nullius at the time of acquisition (discussed further below), it would indeed appear that
First Nations ought to retain authority over the rules governing membership in their communities. In
practice, however, the sovereignty argument has been indelibly shaped by the sexist grammar of state
Indian legislation over time. As Mikmaq scholar Bonita Lawrence explains: Indian legislation in
the Indian Act has functioned so completelyand yet so apparently invisiblyalong gendered lines
that at present the rewriting of Indian identity under Bill C-31 in ways that target men as well as
women are viewed as intense violations of sovereignty, while the gendered violations of sovereignty
that occurred in successive Indian Acts since 1869 have been virtually normalized as the problems of
individual women.41 According to Lawrences analysis, if the sovereignty argument were taken
seriously by First Nations communities, it would compel such communities to critically interrogate
the sexist attack on Indigenous self-determination that has resulted in the historical dispossession of
thousands of Indigenous women and their offspring through the Indian Acts outmarriage clause,
instead of selectively limiting ones critique to the imposition of Bill C-31 in 1985.
The cultural incommensurability position is the one that has fallen under the most scrutiny of social
constructivist critics. It claims that respecting the gender equality rights of individual First Nations

women, as stipulated, for example, under Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and
Section 35 (4) of the Constitution Act, 1982, clashes with the fundamentally collectivist orientation
of Indigenous cultures and political traditions. As the Assembly of First Nations stated to the standing
committee on Aboriginal Affairs in 1982:
As Indian people we cannot afford to have individual rights override collective
rights. Our societies have never been structured that way, unlike yours, and that is
where the clash comes. If you isolate the individual rights from the collective
rights, then you are heading down another path that is ever more discriminatory.
The Charter of Rights is based on equality. In other words, everybody is the same
across the country . . . so the Charter of Rights automatically is in conflict with
our philosophy and culture and organization of collective rights.42
Under Benhabibs model, the situation described above is clearly unacceptable. In fact, one could
argue that it provides a textbook example of why preservationist demands for collective recognition
should not outweigh the universal rights of individual group members. Further, it also appears to
demonstrate how the institutional accommodation of essentialist articulations of cultural identity
through the allocation of unhampered self-government rights can facilitate the further exclusion and
marginalization of a communitys less-powerful members, especially when this form of
accommodation is not subject to the norms that guide deliberative democratic practice or adhere to
baseline conditions such as egalitarian reciprocity, voluntary self-ascription, and freedom of exit and
association.43 In particular, the reliance by many First Nation leaders and organizations on arguments
stressing the incommensurability of liberal democratic and Indigenous cultural conceptions of
citizenship seems to lend credence to these concerns. However, although I agree with Benhabibs
condemnation of these exclusionary practices as unjust, I nonetheless must challenge both her
identification of the source as well as her prescriptive gestures toward a solution to these practices. I
simply fail to see how developing a deliberative order that calls on the state to institutionally police a
more open-ended, fluid, and contestable understanding of cultural identity through democratic
deliberation can subvert the deeply entrenched relations of power at play here.
Benhabibs anti-essentialist criticism includes two dimensions: it claims to be grounded on, first,
an empirical understanding about the constructed nature of cultural identities, which she then, second,
deploys in a normative argument in defense of gender justice for Aboriginal women and other
marginalized members of cultural minorities.44 Indeed, I would argue that recognizing the social fact
of cultural contestability is a necessary (although insufficient) condition for cultivating what most
deliberative democrats posit as a just democratic order. In other words, what is convenient about the
social constructivist position to the deliberative democratic project is that it justifies subjecting the
cultural to the norms that guide deliberative conceptions of the political: that is, it renders cultural
forms and practices subject to appropriate processes of public deliberation by free and equal
citizens.45 When viewed from this angle, it would appear that the very possibility of cultivating a
truly democratic and emancipatory multicultural or multinational politics hinges on cultures socalled fluid and therefore democratically negotiable nature.46 However, as such scholars as Michael
Hardt and Antonio Negri argue, the problem with this formulation is that it assumes that the
oppressive relations of power under scrutiny operate in a very precise manner.47 In short, the efficacy
of anti-essentialist interventions such as Benhabibs rests on the assumption that unjust configurations

of power are produced and maintained primarily through the production and naturalization of
hierarchically ordered binary oppositions based on what appear to be fixed or nonnegotiable
differences; differences between, say, male and female, black and white, gay and straight, colonizer
and colonized. And indeed, in contexts where oppressive hierarchies are primarily sustained through
these naturalized divisions, the affirmation of hybridity and [the] ambivalences of our cultures . . .
seem to challenge the binary logic of Self and Other that stands behind colonialist, sexist, and racist
constructions.48 But what does this strategic intervention have to say about situations where relations
of dominance and subordination are neither primarily produced nor sustained through these
essentialized binary oppositions?
I ask, because in the context of Indigenous womens struggle for community citizenship rights, the
binary logic that ought to be at the source of their marginalization is not readily apparent. There is no
doubt that certain segments of the male Native elite have problematically seized the language of
cultural incommensurability, tradition, and self-preservation to justify the asymmetrical privileges
that they have inherited from the subjectifying regime of sexist misrecognition under successive
pieces of Indian legislation since 1869, but the reification and misuse of culture in this case cannot be
understood without reference to the colonial context within which it continues to flourish. This
constructivist viewpoint, while in some respects very useful, writes Bonita Lawrence, is also
deeply troubling to many Native people.49 For Lawrence, what is lacking in too many constructivist
analyses of supposed Indigenous cultural essentialisms is a deep understanding of the complex web of
oppressive social relations that anchor the Canadian states relationship with Indigenous nations, of
which the gendered production and maintenance of essentialist identity formations constitutes only
one. As a result of this relationship, adverse social indicators such as poverty, unemployment,
substandard housing conditions, infant mortality, morbidity, youth suicide, incarceration, women as
victims of abuse and sexual violence, and child prostitution are much more common in Indigenous
communities than they are in any other segment of Canadian society, whereas educational success and
retention, acceptable health and housing conditions, and access to social services and economic
opportunity are generally far lower.50 These state-sanctioned conditions have made it difficult for
some First Nations governments to provide an adequate system of support for the members they have
now, let alone thousands of reinstated women and children. In fact, by thrusting these disadvantaged
members into the hands of the communities without rectifying the profound inequalities that structure
the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state, the federal government has simply served
to aggravate the problem within these communities even further.51
The essentialist defense of certain First Nations gender exclusionary practices also cannot be
understood outside of the context of the eliminatory logic of the states historical approach to dealing
with its so-called Indian Problem. This logic is perhaps most forcefully exemplified in the federal
governments proposed Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy in 1969also
known as the White Paper. As Peter Kulchyskis recent work argues, the White Paper explicitly
deployed a human rights framework of individual equality in an effort to do away with the collective
Aboriginal and treaty rights of Indigenous nations.52 In this case, formal legal equality was used by the
state as a wrecking ball that threatened to undermine Aboriginal and treaty rights by unilaterally
enfranchising First Nations individuals as Canadian citizens under the law while proposing to
transfer reserve lands to First Nations communities as fee-simple holdings subject to Canadian
property laws and the pressures of the capitalist market. This all to say that, when the Assembly of
First Nations expressed concern over the threat of individual rights overriding collective rights

during self-government negotiations in the 1980s and 1990s,53 this was not solely an expression of
internalized sexism articulated in a patriarchal defense of custom and tradition, although for some it
was unfortunately this too; it was also a conditioned response to the very real state proposal to
eliminate First Nations as such.
It is also important to recall that the human right to equal treatment under the law was the rationale
used to undermine the gendered violation of Indigenous sovereignty that resulted in the court
challenges of Lavell and Bdard in the 1970s. Both court decisions used individual equality, as
exemplified by the rights of Canadian citizenship enshrined in the 1960 Bill of Rights, to rule against
the plaintiffs charge of gender discrimination via the Indian Act. Here I suggest that the emergent
liberal rights apparatus of the Canadian Bill of Rights provided the plaintiffs with a legal incentive to
address their concerns in a manner that was ultimately ill-suited to the task of both gender justice for
Indigenous women and self-determination for Indigenous nations.
In such contexts, I simply do not see how deliberatively policing hybrid cultural forms can subvert
the colonial context within which these gendered practices flourish. Even if we were to provide
institutional spaces within which one might deconstruct and expose the Native elites sexist misuse of
culture as a means of maintaining patriarchal privilege, we would still leave intact the host of other
social relations that work in concert with patriarchy to inform the misuse to begin with. In effect, we
would be locked in a vicious circle of essentialist claims-making and identity deconstruction, having
to repeatedly deliberate over and unpack problematic identity claims and practices only to have them
resurface in another place and context because we have failed to undermine the full conditions of
their production.
This assessment of Benhabibs constructivist position should not be interpreted as rehashing some
reductionist model of oppression where patriarchy is simplistically cast as some second-order,
epiphenomenal effect of the more foundational problem of settler-colonialism. What I am
suggesting here is quite different: that the oppression faced by Indigenous women in Canada cannot be
adequately understood when separated from the other axes of oppression that have converged to
sustain it over time. In the settler-colonial context of Canada, these power relations of course include
patriarchy, but also white supremacy, capitalism, and state domination. By focusing too narrowly on
the gendered character of essentialist cultural claims, Benhabib failed to take into consideration the
multiplicity of ways in which these other dynamics have served to inform, indeed proliferate, these
sexist practices.

Social Constructivism, Colonial Domination, and the State

In the previous section I suggested that Benhabibs anti-essentialist critique of the politics of
recognition represents both a sociological statement about the hybrid nature of cultural identities, as
well as a normative project aimed at progressive social change. However, unlike more explicitly
poststructuralist-inspired theorists who tend to view anti-essentialist criticism as a potentially
transformative practice in its own right, Benhabib moves beyond the realm of deconstructive critique
and applies what she sees as the best insights of social constructivist thought to the development of a
deliberative project capable of accommodating justifiable demands for cultural recognition without
violating individual claims to equality.54 In doing so, I claim she makes a very problematic move:
once she establishes the constructedness of cultural identities as a definitive feature of social life, she
then proceeds to ground her normative position on what a political order ought to look like based on

this universal depiction.55 What form ought this political order take? As noted previously, for
Benhabib it should comprise impartial institutions in the public sphere and civil society where [the]
struggle for recognition of cultural differences and the contestation of cultural narratives can take
place without domination.56 If group demands for cultural recognition meet this deliberative
standard, there is no reason why the state should not provide legal and institutional accommodation
for the group in question.57 This, again, is quite different from the standard poststructuralist position,
which tends to view the institutionalization of any claim to universality with suspicion.58
Now, thus far my critique has been directed fairly broadly at the colonial implications of what I
have characterized as an uncritical normative privileging of cultural contestability in Benhabibs
social constructivism. Seen from this angle, Benhabibs deliberative approach appears problematic
only insofar as it has appropriated this uncritical strand of constructivist thought. In this section, I
want to flip the gaze around. That is, I want to examine more closely a colonial implication of
Benhabibs statist model of deliberative democracy, and in doing so show how her social
constructivist commitments work in concert with this statism to reinforce a colonial structure of
My concern here is that by employing the so-called social fact of cultural contestability as a
standard against which democratic theorists, judges, policy makers, and the state ought to assess the
legitimacy of claims for recognition, Benhabibs theory potentially sanctions the very forms of power
and domination that anti-essentialist democratic projects ought to mitigate. First, by placing the
burden squarely on the shoulders of claimants of recognition to prove that their identity movements do
not deny the contestability of cultural practices before they are eligible for institutional
accommodation, Benhabibs model potentially renders rectifying forms of recognition and
redistribution unattainable for Indigenous groups whose cultural expressions do not adhere to this
excessively fluid form. Second, and more problematically, even if Indigenous claims for recognition
do manage to meet these criteria, her theory leaves uninterrupted the colonial social and political
structure that is assigned the adjudicative role in assessing recognition claims and enforcing
postdeliberative claim decisions. Political theorist Duncan Ivison perceptively refers to this second
problem as the legitimacy crisis faced by most deliberative approaches when applied to colonial
contexts.59 I will now discuss these two problems in turn.
First, in many cases Indigenous peoples struggles for recognition and self-determination simply
defy all protocols associated with social constructivist criticism. As Arif Dirlik has commented:
Not only do [they] affirm the possibility of a real native identity, but [they] also assert for the basis
of such an identity a native subjectivity that has survived, depending on location, as many as five
centuries of colonialism and cultural disorientation. Not only [do they] believe in the possibility of
recapturing the essence of precolonial indigenous culture, but [they] also base this belief on a
spirituality that exists outside of historical time. . . . In all of these different ways, indigenous
ideology would seem to provide a textbook case of self-Orientalization.60
Dirlik does not end his observations here, however; in other works he goes on to discuss the ways
that Indigenous scholars and activists defend what would appear to be essentialist notions of
indigeneity in their attempts to provide radical alternatives to the challenge of modern political
organization in particular the nation-stateand [which] offer possibilities that need to be
considered seriously in any place-based democratic alternatives to the hegemony of state and
capitalist forms of domination.61 Our discussion of the place-based alternatives to colonial economic

and political development articulated by the Dene Nation in the previous chapter provides an
excellent example of such a project.
Benhabibs intervention, however, focuses solely on the exclusionary features of essentialist
identity formations, and this understanding is subsequently reflected in her deliberative approach. The
potential problem here, of course, is that by theoretically and institutionally privileging recognition
claims that adhere to an infinitely negotiable conception of culture, it is unclear what Indigenous
claims Benhabibs deliberative model would be willing and able to accommodate. For one, almost
every Indigenous demand for recognition that I can think of is couched, at least in part, in the
vernacular of cultural survival and autonomyand rightfully so, given the history of genocidal
state assimilation policies that Indigenous people and communities have been forced to endure. Thus,
as Arif Dirlik and Roxann Prazniak caution, even when the emancipatory potential of seemingly
essentialist Indigenous claims are not readily apparent, it is crucial to distinguish between claims to
identity of the powerful and the powerless, because the powerless may face such threats, including on
occasion the threat of extinction, that is intellectually, politically, and morally irresponsible to
encompass within one notion of essentialism.62
In the concluding chapter of The Claims of Culture Benhabib recognizes the challenge that
Indigenous claims to self-determination present her position. These peoples, she writes, are
seeking not to preserve their language, customs, and culture alone but to attain the integrity of ways of
life greatly at odds with modernity.63 She continues:
While being greatly skeptical about the chances for survival of these cultural
groups, I think that from the standpoint of deliberative democracy, we need to
create institutions through which members of these communities can negotiate and
debate the future of their own conditions of existence. . . . As I have suggested . . .
the self-determination rights of many of these groups clash with gender equality
norms of the majority culture. [However, if] self-determination is viewed not
simply as the right to be left alone in governing ones affairs, but is also
understood as the right to participate in the larger community, then the negotiation
of these ways of life to accommodate more egalitarian gender norms becomes
Although Benhabib recognizes the limits of her approach in colonial contexts, in the end she is still
unrelenting in her commitment to a conception of democratic governance that views justice for
Indigenous communities in terms of their greater inclusion into the institutional matrix of the larger
settler state and society. Indeed, her whole approach suggests that this inclusion is necessary so that
Indigenous peoples nonliberal, nonmodern cultural norms and practices remain open to contestation
and group deliberation. Indigenous peoples, in other words, require access to the deliberative
mechanisms and democratic institutions of the enlightened colonial society for the well-being of their
own citizens. The assumption here being that the colonial imposition of patriarchal governance
structures in First Nations communities has so damaged customary gender roles that the colonial state
apparatus is now required to intervene in the political life of First Nations communities to ensure that
Indigenous womens rights are honored and upheld. Here, the legitimacy of a substantive right to
Indigenous autonomy and self-determination is perversely undercut by the very success of the colonial
project itself. The adverse effects of colonization demand more colonial intervention.

Second, although these proposals may avoid some of the effects associated with essentialist group
practices, they nonetheless leave unscathed the presumption that the colonial state constitutes a
legitimate authority to determine which demands for Indigenous recognition ought to be
accommodated and which ought to be denied. Ironically, however, the states assumed position in
these struggles is itself what is contested by many Indigenous claims for cultural recognition. What is
also ironic is the fact that that the states assumed authority in these matters is premised on the
profoundly essentialist, indeed racist, understanding that Indigenous peoples were too uncivilized to
constitute equal and self-determining nations when European powers unilaterally asserted their
sovereignty over Native North America.
When the first Europeans arrived in what is now Canada, survival required that they immediately
enter into political and economic relationships with the diverse, sovereign, and self-governing
Indigenous nations that they encountered. Over the ensuing four centuries the relationship between
Indigenous nations and the growing settler society would undergo substantial changes, shifting from
mutually beneficial associations . . . between equal nations to the coercive imposition of a structure
of domination. As the settler society grew in numbers and strength, their dependence on the
technologies and knowledge of Indigenous peoples began to wane, and the relationship shifted from
one premised on peaceful coexistence and relative equality between peoples to a colonial
relationship in which Aboriginal peoples and their cultures were treated as unequal and inferior.65
Over the last decade, numerous scholars have convincingly shown how the conceptualization of
Indigenous societies as politically and culturally inferior continues to inform Canadas presumed
authority over Indigenous lands and people.66 Because Indigenous societies were considered so low
on the natural scale of social and cultural evolution, settler authorities felt justified in claiming North
America legally vacant, or terra nullius, and sovereignty was acquired by the mere act of settlement
itself. As Michael Aschs work has pointed out, the Supreme Court of Canada still implicitly and
consistently invokes the racist terra nullius thesis to justify the unequal distribution of sovereignty
that structures the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada.67
The colonial state is not only a racial structure, however; it is also fundamentally patriarchal in
character. To date, one of the best analyses of the patriarchal nature of settler-state power has come
from one the most persistent and thoughtful critics of Charter protection for Indigenous women: the
late Mohawk legal scholar Patricia Monture. As an unrelenting advocate of both Indigenous
nationalist struggles and emancipation for Indigenous women, Montures work embodies among the
best of contemporary Indigenous feminist theory and practice, even though she did not identify her
work in these terms.68 What Montures work adds to the intersectionality of Indigenous feminist
approaches to decolonization is a critical analysis of the colonial state as manifestation of male
power, which she claims renders its legal apparatus very problematic as a site of emancipation for
Indigenous women. The Canadian state is the invisible male perpetrator who unlike Aboriginal men
does not have a victim face, asserts Monture in her pathbreaking book, Thunder in My Soul. And at
the feet of the state I can lay my anger to rest.69
I think that Montures concern with the legalist approach to seeking gender justice for Native
women adopted by organizations like The Native Womens Association of Canada is that such an
approach implicitly assumes that the colonial state is ultimately a gender-neutral apparatus that only
historically adopted a patriarchal logic to frame Indian legislation, instead of understanding male
dominance as a constitutive feature of state power as such. What are the implications of turning to the

state as a protector of Indigenous womens rights if the state itself constitutes the material embodiment
of masculinist, patriarchal power? Here I suggest that Montures insights coalesce productively with
those of political theorist Wendy Brown. For Brown, gender emancipation strategies that rely on the
state apparatus in this way have deeply contradictory implications given that domination,
dependence, discipline, and protection, the terms marking the itinerary of womens subordination in
vastly different cultures and epochs, are also characteristic effects of state power.70 Subsequently,
when women turn to the state apparatus in their struggles for gender justice they risk reiterating rather
than transforming the subjective and material conditions of their own oppression. At the very least,
Montures Indigenous feminist critique of the colonial state provides us with a tool to critically
reflect on the contradictory impulses associated with seeking emancipation from the adverse
gendered and racist effects of state power by means of law. This does not require that Indigenous
peoples vacate the legal field entirely, however. As Kwakwakawaka scholar Sarah Hunt writes,
Surely we must engage with this powerful system, but appealing to the law alone will not stop the
violence.71 For Hunt, as with Monture, this system must be used very cautiously and strategically, so
as to not reproduce the systems and ideologies that colonialism has produced.72 And, as
Anishinaabe feminist Dory Nason suggests, these strategic engagements must be supplemented, if not
eventually replaced, by those values, practices and traditions that are the core of Indigenous
womens power and authorityconcepts that have been, and remain under attack, and which strike at
the core of a settler-colonial misogyny that refuses to acknowledge the ways in which it targets
Indigenous women for destruction.73
Here we have arrived at a paradox. If, as I have argued, Benhabibs use of social constructivism
represents not only an empirical statement about the nature of cultural identities, but also a means of
undercutting those forms of domination that she views as being legitimized through the reification of
essentialist and nonnegotiable cultural forms, then her theory has failed to serve its purpose in the
colonial context. In fact, by treating the state as a natural and uncontested arbiter in struggles for
recognitionor, as Richard J. F. Day has put it, by assuming that the state somehow inherently
occupies a pole of universality, [providing an] appropriate ground for dialogue between [Indigenous
peoples,] ethnic groups, regions, and so onBenhabibs model has firmly imbedded Indigenous
nations within the racialized and patriarchal structure of colonial domination that their claims for
cultural recognition posit as unjust and illegitimate.74 According to Arif Dirlik it is precisely through
this double maneuverthe uncritical and premature positing of cultural in-betweenness as both a
universal and normative aspect of the human conditionthat anti-essentialist democratic projects
abandon their transformative potential and crystallize into a new kind of determinism from which
there is no escape.75

To avoid some of the problems that have come to the fore in the preceding sections, I think it is
crucial that advocates of anti-essentialist criticism begin to acknowledge that, as discourses, both
constructivist and essentialist articulations of identity can aid in either the maintenance or subversion
of oppressive configurations of power. Here I employ discourse in a Foucauldian manner to refer
to the myriad ways in which the objects of our knowledge are defined and produced through the
languages we employ in our engagement with the world and with others. Discursive formations, in
other words, are not neutral; they construct the topic and objects of our knowledge; they govern the

way that a topic can be meaningfully talked about and reasoned about. They also influence how
ideas are put into practice and used to regulate the conduct of others. Just as a discursive formation
can legitimize certain ways of thinking and acting, they can also profoundly limit and constrain other
ways of talking and conducting ourselves in relation to the topic or constructing knowledge about
it.76 And it is precisely on this last point where I believe constructivist-inspired projects such as
Benhabibs have failed: in their a priori attack on all essentialist claims-making they have refused to
acknowledge the repressive ways in which their own discursive interventions have effectively
undermined certain forms of subaltern resistance, and have thus unduly constrained the field of
legitimate action for Indigenous peoples in their national liberation struggles.
The same can be also be said about the ways in which the discourse of culture has been used by
certain segments within the Indigenous community to further exclude and marginalize the status of
Native women. What is needed in this case is an explicit acknowledgment of the manner in which the
Indian Act has itself come to discursively shape, regulate, and govern how many of us have come to
think about Indigenous identity and community belonging. As a result, we have to be cautious that our
appeals to culture and tradition in our contemporary struggles for recognition do not replicate the
racist and sexist misrecognitions of the Indian Act and in the process unwittingly reproduce the
structure of dispossession we originally set out to challenge.
In sum, then, no discourse on identity should be prematurely cast as either inherently productive or
repressive prior to an engaged consideration of the historical, political, and socioeconomic contexts
and actors involved. To my mind, paying closer attention to context when studying the underlying
dynamics of identity-related struggle might better enable critics, especially those writing from
positions of privilege and power, to distinguish between discourses that naturalize oppression and
discourses that naturalize resistance.77 This is particularly relevant from the perspective of
Indigenous peoples struggles, where activists may sometimes employ what appear to outsiders as
essentialist notions of culture and tradition in their efforts to transcend, not reinforce, oppressive
structures and practices.

Seeing Red
Reconciliation and Resentment

Our greatest critics and commentators are men and women of resentment. . . . Our revolutionaries are men and
women of resentment. In an age deprived of passion . . . they alone have the one dependable emotional motive,
constant and obsessive, slow-burning but totally dependable. Through resentment, they get things done.
Robert Solomon, Living with Nietzsche
The person who most forcefully expressed the discourse of resentment is Frantz Fanon.
Marc Ferro, Resentment in History

On June 11, 2008, the Conservative prime minister of Canada, Stephen J. Harper, issued an official
apology on behalf of the Canadian state to Indigenous survivors of the Indian residential school
system.1 Characterized as the inauguration of a new chapter in the history of AboriginalnonAboriginal relations in the country, the residential school apology was a highly anticipated and
emotionally loaded event. Across the country, Native and non-Native people alike gathered in living
rooms, band offices, churches, and community halls to witness and pay homage to this so-called
historic occasion. Although there was a great deal of Native skepticism toward the apology in the
days leading up to it, in its immediate aftermath it appeared that many, if not most, observers felt that
Harpers apology was a genuine and necessary first step on the long road to forgiveness and
The benefit of the doubt that was originally afforded the authenticity of the prime ministers
apology has since dissipated. Public distrust began to escalate following a well-scrutinized address
by Harper at a gathering of the G20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 25, 2009. It was there
that Harper made the somewhat astonishing (but typically arrogant and self-congratulatory) claim that
Canadians had no history of colonialism. Harper continued: We have all of the things that many
people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them.3 On
October 1, 2009, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, responded to the
prime ministers claim: The Prime Ministers statement speaks to the need for greater public
education about First Nations and Canadian history. . . . The future cannot be built without due regard
to the past, without reconciling the incredible harm and injustice with a genuine commitment to move
forward in truth and respect.4 In this chapter, I explore some of the issues raised by these two
seemingly contradictory eventsthe residential school apology and call for forgiveness and
reconciliation on the one hand, and the selective amnesia of Harpers G20 address on the otherand
how they speak to the current entanglement of settler coloniality with the politics of reconciliation that
began to gain traction in Canada during the 1990s.
Over the last three decades, a global industry has emerged promoting the issuing of official
apologies advocating forgiveness and reconciliation as an important precondition for resolving

the deleterious social impacts of intrastate violence, mass atrocity, and historical injustice.5
Originally, this industry was developed in state contexts that sought to undergo a formal transition
from the violent history of openly authoritarian regimes to more democratic forms of ruleknown in
the literature as transitional justicebut more recently has been imported by somewhat stable,
liberal-democratic settler polities like Canada and Australia.6 In Canada, we have witnessed this
relatively recent reconciliation politics converge with a slightly older politics of recognition,
advocating the institutional recognition and accommodation of Indigenous cultural difference as an
important means of reconciling the colonial relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state.
Political theorist Andrew Schaap explains the convergence of these two discourses well: In
societies divided by a history of political violence, political reconciliation depends on transforming a
relation of enmity into one of civic friendship. In such contexts the discourse of recognition provides
a ready frame in terms of which reconciliation might be conceived.7
In Canada reconciliation tends to be invoked in three distinct yet interrelated ways when
deployed in the context of Indigenous peoples struggles for self-determination. First, reconciliation
is frequently used to refer to the diversity of individual or collective practices that Indigenous people
undertake to reestablish a positive relation-to-self in situations where this relation has been
damaged or distorted by some form of symbolic or structural violence. Acquiring or being afforded
due recognition by another subject (or subjects) is often said to play a fundamental role in
facilitating reconciliation in this first sense.8 Second, reconciliation is also commonly referred to
as the act of restoring estranged or damaged social and political relationships. It is frequently inferred
by proponents of political reconciliation that restoring these relationships requires that individuals
and groups work to overcome the debilitating pain, anger, and resentment that frequently persist in the
wake of being injured or harmed by a perceived or real injustice.9 In settler-state contexts, truth and
reconciliation commissions, coupled with state arrangements that claim to recognize and
accommodate Indigenous identity-related differences, are viewed as important institutional means to
facilitate reconciliation in these first two senses.10 These institutional mechanisms are also seen as a
crucial way to help evade the cycles of violence that can occur when societal cultural differences are
suppressed and when so-called negative emotions such as anger and resentment are left to fester
within and between disparate social groups.11 The third notion of reconciliation commonly invoked
in the Canadian context refers to the process by which things are brought to agreement, concord, or
harmony; the fact of being made consistent or compatible.12 As Anishinaabe political philosopher
Dale Turners recent work reminds us, this third form of reconciliationthe act of rendering things
consistentis the one that lies at the core of Canadas legal and political understanding of term:
namely, rendering consistent Indigenous assertions of nationhood with the states unilateral assertion
of sovereignty over Native peoples lands and populations. It is the states attempt to impose this third
understanding of reconciliation on the institutional and discursive field of Indigenousnon-Indigenous
relations that is effectively undermining the realization of the previous two forms of reconciliation.
Thomas Brudholms recent book, Resentments Virtue: Jean Amry and the Refusal to Forgive,
offers an important critique of the global turn to reconciliation politics that has emerged in the last
thirty years. Specifically, Brudholms study provides a much-needed counterpoint to the nearhegemonic status afforded the logic of forgiveness in the literatures on transitional justice and
reconciliation.13 Focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, Brudholm
shows how advocates of transitional justice often base their normative assumptions about the
presumed good of forgiveness and reconciliation on a number of uncritical assumptions about the

supposed bad of harboring reactive emotions like anger and resentment: that these feelings are
physically and mentally unhealthy, irrational, retrograde, and, when collectively expressed, prone to
producing increased social instability and political violence. Brudholm challenges these assumptions
through a fascinating engagement with the writings of essayist and holocaust survivor Jean Amry,
whose own work challenges the scathing and very influential portrayal of ressentiment as an
irredeemably vengeful, reactionary, and backward-looking force by Friedrich Nietzsche in On the
Genealogy of Morals (1887).14 According to Brudholm, Amrys work forces us to consider that
under certain conditions a disciplined maintenance of resentment in the wake of historical injustice
can signify the reflex expression of a moral protest that is as permissible and admirable as the
posture of forgiveness.15
In this chapter, I undertake a similar line of argumentation, although with two significant
differences. First, as a critique of the field and practice of transitional justice, Brudholms study is
limited to the aftermath of mass atrocities and to the time after the violence has been brought to
an end.16 In the following pages, the political import of Indigenous peoples emotional responses to
settler colonization is instead explored against the nontransitional backdrop of the states approach
to reconciliation that began to explicitly inform government policy following the release of the Report
of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1996.17 I show that in settler-colonial
contextswhere there is no period marking a clear or formal transition from an authoritarian past to a
democratic presentstate-sanctioned approaches to reconciliation must ideologically manufacture
such a transition by allocating the abuses of settler colonization to the dustbins of history, and/or
purposely disentangle processes of reconciliation from questions of settler-coloniality as such. Once
either or both of these conceptual obfuscations have been accomplished, holding the contradictory
position that Canada has no history of colonialism following an official government apology to
Indigenous survivors of one of the states most notoriously brutal colonial institutions begins to make
sense; indeed, one could argue that this form of conceptual revisionism is required of an approach
that attempts to apply transitional justice mechanisms to nontransitional circumstances. In such
conditions, reconciliation takes on a temporal character as the individual and collective process of
overcoming the subsequent legacy of past abuse, not the abusive colonial structure itself. And what
are we to make of those who refuse to forgive and/or reconcile in these situations? They are typically
cast as being saddled by the damaging psychological residue of this legacy, of which anger and
resentment are frequently highlighted.
The second difference is that I use the work of Frantz Fanon as my central theoretical referent
instead of that of Jean Amry. As Amry himself perceptively noted in an important 1969 essay,
Fanon held a very nuanced perspective on both the potentially transformative and retrograde aspects
of colonized peoples hatred, contempt and resentment when expressed within and against the
subjective and structural features of colonial power.18 This chapter builds on Fanons insights to
demonstrate two things. First, far from being a largely disempowering and unhealthy affliction, I show
that under certain conditions Indigenous peoples individual and collective expressions of anger and
resentment can help prompt the very forms of self-affirmative praxis that generate rehabilitated
Indigenous subjectivities and decolonized forms of life in ways that the combined politics of
recognition and reconciliation has so far proven itself incapable of doing. And second, in light of
Canadas failure to deliver on its emancipatory promise of postcolonial reconciliation, I suggest that
what implicitly gets interpreted by the state as Indigenous peoples ressentimentunderstood as an
incapacitating inability or unwillingness to get over the pastis actually an entirely appropriate

manifestation of our resentment: a politicized expression of Indigenous anger and outrage directed at
a structural and symbolic violence that still structures our lives, our relations with others, and our
relationships with land.
I develop this argument in three sections and a conclusion. In the first section, I discuss the ways in
which negative emotions like anger and resentment get taken up in the literature on forgiveness and
reconciliation in Canada. In the next section, I provide a reading of Fanons theories of internalized
colonialism and decolonization in order to counter the largely unsympathetic interpretation of
Indigenous peoples negative emotional responses to settler-colonial rule in the Canadian discourse
on reconciliation. This section will also provide a historical account of the transformative role
played by Indigenous peoples anger and resentment in generating self-affirmative acts of resistance
and Indigenous direct action that prompted the state to respond with pacifying gestures of recognition
and reconciliation. And finally, I provide an analysis of the turn to reconciliation in Aboriginal
policy following the release of the RCAP report in 1996. Here I develop my claim that Indigenous
peoples resentment represents a legitimate response to the neocolonial politics of reconciliation that
emerged in the wake of RCAP.

Dwelling on the Negative: Resentment and Reconciliation

In common usage, resentment is usually referenced negatively to indicate a feeling closely
associated with anger.19 However, where one can be angry with any number of things, resentment is
typically reserved for and directed against instances of perceived wrongdoing. The Oxford English
Dictionary, for example, defines resentment as a feeling of bitter indignation at having been treated
unfairly.20 One could argue, then, that resentment, unlike anger, has an in-built political component
to it, given that it is often expressed in response to an alleged slight, instance of maltreatment, or
injustice. Seen from this angle, resentment can be understood as a particularly virulent expression of
politicized anger.21
The political dimension of resentment has not gone unnoticed within the Western philosophical
tradition; philosophers such as Adam Smith, John Rawls, Robert Solomon, Jeffrie Murphy, Alice
MacLachlan, and Thomas Brudholm (to name only a few) have all written extensively on the moral
significance of emotions like resentment.22 In A Theory of Justice, for example, Rawls writes that
resentment is a moral feeling. If we resent our having less than others, it must be because we think
that their being better off is the result of unjust institutions, or wrongful conduct on their part.23 In a
similar vein, Jeffrie Murphy argues that resentment can be both a legitimate and valuable expression
of anger in response to the unjust abrogation of ones rights; it is an affective indicator of our sense of
self-worth or self-respect.24 And Alice MacLachlan writes: In emphasizing the moral function of
resentment as one kind of anger . . . philosophers have offered an important service to angry victims
of political violence, who are often voiceless except in their ability to articulate and express
resentment.25 Thomas Brudholm notes that, although these theorists vary regarding the conditions
and circumstances under which anger or resentment is appropriate, they nonetheless all draw an
important distinction between excessive and pathological forms of anger and resentment, on the one
hand, and appropriate and valuable forms, on the other hand.26
Discussions within the field of recognition and reconciliation politics, however, rarely treat
reactive emotions like anger and resentment even-handedly. Indeed, in such contexts, anger and

resentment are more likely to be seen as pathologies that need to be overcome. However, given the
genealogical association of feelings like resentment with political and moral protest, why have they
received such bad press in the literature on reconciliation? I think there are at least two reasons to
consider here. First, as several scholars have noted, in the transitional justice and reconciliation
literature our understanding of resentment has been deeply shaded by Nietzsches profoundly
influential characterization of ressentiment in On the Genealogy of Morals.27 There, ressentiment is
portrayed as a reactive, backward, and passive orientation to the world, which, for Nietzsche,
signifies the abnegation of freedom as self-valorizing, life-affirming action. To be saddled with
ressentiment is to be irrationally preoccupied with and incapacitated by offences suffered in the past.
Ressentiment, writes Jean Amry, nails its victims to the past, it blocks the exit . . . to the
future and twists the time-sense of those trapped in it.28 This theme is taken up again in Thus
Spoke Zarathustra, where Nietzsche describes the so-called man of ressentiment as an angry
spectator of everything past.29 For Nietzsche, ressentiment is an expression of ones impotence
against that which has been.30 For the resenting subject, memory is a festering wound.31 In
Nietzsches view, to wallow in resentment is to deny ones capacity to actively forget, to let go,
to get on with life.32 In the third section below I show how state reconciliation policy in Canada is
deeply invested in the view that Indigenous peoples suffer from ressentiment in a way not entirely
unlike Nietzsche describes.
The second reason why negative emotions like anger and resentment find few defenders in the field
of reconciliation politics is because they sometimes can manifest themselves in unhealthy and
disempowering ways. My argument here does not deny this. Individual narratives highlighting the
perils associated with clinging to ones anger and resentment appear too frequently in the Canadian
reconciliation literature to do so. Consider, for example, the following account by Ojibwe author
Richard Wagamese, which speaks to the personal necessity of overcoming anger and resentment as a
precondition in his own healing journey:
For years I carried simmering anger and resentment. The more I learned about the
implementation of [Indian residential school] policy and how it affected
Aboriginal people across the country, the more anger I felt. I ascribed all my pain
to residential schools and those responsible. . . . But when I was in my late
forties, I had enough of the anger. I was tired of being drunk and blaming the
residential schools and those responsible. . . . My life was slipping away on me
and I did not want to become an older person still clinging to [such]
disempowering emotion[s].33
Taken together, these are all very serious concerns. It makes no sense at all to affirm the worth of
resentment over a politics of recognition and reconciliation if doing so increases the likelihood of
reproducing internalized forms of violence. Nor could one possibly affirm the political significance
of Nietzschean ressentiment if doing so means irrationally chaining ourselves to the past. While I
recognize that Indigenous peoples negative emotional responses to settler colonization can play out
in some of these problematic ways, it is important to recognize that they do not always do so. As we
shall see in the next section, these affective reactions can also lead to forms of anticolonial resistance
grounded on transformed Indigenous political subjectivities. I suggest that the transformative potential
of these emotions is also why Frantz Fanon refused to dismiss or condemn them; instead he demanded

that they be understood, that their transformative potential be harnessed, and that their structural
referent be identified and uprooted.

The Resentment of the Colonized and the Rise of Reconciliation

Politics in Canada
Understanding Fanons views regarding the political significance of what he calls emotional factors
in the formation of anticolonial subjectivities and decolonizing practices requires that we briefly
revisit his theory of internalized colonialism.34 Recall from chapter 1 that, for Fanon, in contexts
where the reproduction of colonial rule does not rely solely on force, it requires the production of
colonial subjects that acquiesce to the forms of power that have been imposed on them.
Internalization thus occurs when the social relations of colonialism, along with the forms of
recognition and representation that serve to legitimate them, come to be seen as true or natural to
the colonized themselves. The status of native is a neurosis, explains Sartre in his preface to The
Wretched of the Earth, introduced and maintained by the colonist in the colonized with their
consent.35 Similar to how the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci viewed the reproduction of
class dominance in situations absent ongoing state violence, colonial hegemony is maintained through
a combination of coercion and consent.36 Under such conditions, colonial domination appears more
subtle, less bloody, to use Fanons words.37
For Fanon, this psychological-economic structure is what produces the condition of stagnancy
and inertia that characterizes the colonial world.38 The Wretched of the Earth, for example, is littered
with passages that highlight the fundamentally passive and lethargic condition that the colonial
situation produces. The colonial world, writes Fanon, is compartmentalized, Manichaean and
petrified; it is a world in which the colonial subject is penned in, lies coiled and robbed,
taught to remain in his place and not overstep his limits.39 In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon
describes this Manichaean relation as locked or fixed by the assumptions of racial and cultural
inferiority and superiority held by the colonized and colonizer, respectively.40 Unlike racist arguments
that attribute the supposed inertia of colonized societies to the cultural and technological
underdevelopment of the colonized themselves, Fanon identifies the colonial social structure as the
source of this immobility.41
Although the internalized negative energy produced by this hostile situation will first express
itself against the colonizeds own peopleThis is the period when black turns on black, writes
Fanon, when colonial violence assumes a black or Arab faceover time, it begins to incite a
negative reaction in the colonial subject.42 It is my claim that this reaction indicates a breakdown of
the psychological structure of internalized colonialism. The colonized subject, degraded,
impoverished, and abused, begins to look at the colonists world of lights and paved roads with
envy, contempt, and resentment.43 The colonized begin to desire what has been denied them: land,
freedom, and dignity. They begin dreaming of revenge, of taking their oppressors place:
The gaze that the colonized subject casts at the colonists sector is a look of lust,
a look of envy. Dreams of possession. Every type of possession: at sitting at the
colonists table and sleeping in his bed, preferably with his wife. The colonized
man is an envious man. The colonist is aware of this as he catches the furtive

glance, and constantly on his guard, realizes bitterly that: They want to take our
place. And it is true that there is not one colonized subject who at least once a
day does not dream of taking the place of the colonist.44
Although Fanon is quick to insist that the legitimate desire for revenge borne of the colonized
subjects nascent hatred and resentment toward the colonist cannot alone nurture a war of
liberation, I suggest that these negative emotions nonetheless mark an important turning point in the
individual and collective coming-to-consciousness of the colonized.45 More specifically, I think that
they represent the externalization of that which was previously internalized: a purging, if you will,
of the so-called inferiority complex of the colonized subject. In the context of internalized
colonialism, the material conditions of poverty and violence that condition the colonial situation
appear muted to the colonized because they are understood to be the product of ones own cultural
deficiencies. In such a context, the formation of a colonial enemythat is, a source external to
ourselves that we come to associate with our misfortunessignifies a collapse of this internalized
colonial psychic structure.46 For Fanon, only once this rupture has occurredor, to use Jean Amrys
phrase, once these sterile emotions come to recognize themselves for what they really are . . .
consequences of social repression47can the colonized then cast their exasperated hatred and rage
in this new direction.48
Importantly, Fanon insists that these reactive emotions can also prompt the colonized to revalue and
affirm Indigenous cultural traditions and social practices that are systematically denigrated yet never
fully destroyed in situations of colonial rule. After years of dehumanization the colonized begin to
resent the assumed supremacy of white values that has served to ideologically justify their
continued exploitation and domination. In the period of decolonization, writes Fanon, the
colonized masses thumb their noses at these very values, shower them with insults and vomit them
up.49 Eventually, this newfound resentment of colonial values prompts the colonized to affirm the
worth of their own traditions, of their own civilizations, which in turn generates feelings of pride and
self-certainty unknown in the colonial period. For Fanon, this anti-racist racism or the
determination to defends ones skin is characteristic of the colonizeds response to colonial
oppression and provides them with the motivating reason the join the struggle.50 Although Fanon
ultimately saw this example of Indigenous cultural self-recognition as an expression akin to
Nietzschean ressentimentthat is, as a limited and retrograde reaction to colonial powerhe
nonetheless claimed it as necessary for the same reason he affirmed the transformative potential of
emotional factors like anger and resentment: they signify an important break in the forms of colonial
subjection that have hitherto kept the colonized in their place.51 In the following chapters, I delve
further into what I claim to be Fanons overly instrumental view of cultures value vis--vis
decolonization in light of the more substantive position held by contemporary theorists and activists
of Indigenous resurgence.
In the context of internalized colonialism, then, it would appear that the emergence of reactive
emotions like anger and resentment can indicate a breakdown of colonial subjection and thus open up
the possibility of developing alternative subjectivities and anticolonial practices. Indeed, if we look
at the historical context that informed the coupling of recognition with reconciliation politics
following Canadas launch of RCAP in 1991, we see a remarkably similar process taking place. Let
us now turn briefly to this important history of struggle.

Managing the Crisis: Reconciliation and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
The federal government was forced to establish RCAP in the wake of two national crises that erupted
in the tumultuous Indian summer of 1990. The first involved the legislative stonewalling of the
Meech Lake Accord by Cree Manitoba Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Elijah Harper.
The Meech Lake Accord was a failed constitutional amendment package negotiated in 1987 by the
then prime minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, and the ten provincial premiers. The process was the
federal governments attempt to bring Quebec back in to the constitutional fold in the wake of the
provinces refusal to accept the constitutional repatriation deal of 1981, which formed the basis of the
the Constitution Act, 1982. Indigenous opposition to Meech Lake was staunch and vocal, in large part
due to the fact that the process failed to recognize the political concerns and aspirations of First
Nations.52 In a disruptive act of legislative protest, Elijah Harper was able to prevent the province
from endorsing the package within the three-year ratification deadline stipulated in the Constitution
Act. The agreement subsequently tanked because it failed to gain the required ratification of all ten
provinces, which is required of all proposed constitutional amendments.53
The second crisis involved a seventy-eight-day armed standoff beginning on July 11, 1990,
between the Mohawk nation of Kanesatake, the Quebec provincial police (Sret du Qubec, or SQ),
and the Canadian armed forces near the town of Oka, Quebec. On June 30, 1990, the municipality of
Oka was granted a court injunction to dismantle a peaceful barricade erected by the people of
Kanesatake in an effort to defend their sacred lands from further encroachment by non-Native
developers. The territory in question was slotted for development by a local golf course, which
planned on extending nine holes onto land the Mohawks had been fighting to have recognized as their
own for almost three hundred years.54 Eleven days later, on July 11, one hundred heavily armed
members of the SQ stormed the community. The police invasion culminated in a twenty-four-second
exchange of gunfire that killed SQ Corporal Marcel Lemay.55 In a display of solidarity, the
neighboring Mohawk nation of Kahnawake set up their own barricades, including one that blocked the
Mercier Bridge leading into the greater Montreal area. Galvanized by the Mohawk resistance,
Indigenous peoples from across the continent followed suit, engaging in a diverse array of solidarity
actions that ranged from information leafleting to the establishment of peace encampments to the
erection of blockades on several major Canadian transport corridors, both road and rail. Although
polls conducted during the standoff showed some support by non-Native Canadians outside of
Quebec for the Mohawk cause,56 most received their information about the so-called Oka Crisis
through the corporate media, which overwhelmingly represented the event as a law and order issue
fundamentally undermined by Indigenous peoples uncontrollable anger and resentment.57
For many Indigenous people and their supporters, however, these two national crises were seen as
the inevitable culmination of a near decade-long escalation of Native frustration with a colonial state
that steadfastly refused to uphold the rights that had been recently recognized and affirmed in
section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. By the late 1980s this frustration was clearly boiling
over, resulting in a marked rise in First Nations militancy and land-based direct action.58 The
following are some of the better-documented examples from the time:
1. The Innu occupation and blockade of the Canadian Air Force/NATO base at Goose Bay in present-day Labrador. The
occupation was led largely by Innu women to challenge the further dispossession of their territories and subsequent
destruction of their land-based way of life by the military industrial complexs encroachment onto their homeland of

2. The Lubicon Cree struggle against oil and gas development on their traditional territories in present-day Alberta. The
Lubicon Cree have been struggling to protect a way of life threatened by intensified nonrenewable development on their
homelands since at least 1939, when they first learned that they were left out of the negotiations that led to the signing
of Treaty 8 in 1899. In defend ing their continued right to the land, the community has engaged in a number of very
public protests, including a well-publicized boycott of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the associated Glenbow
Museum exhibit, The Spirit Sings.60
3. First Nations blockades in British Columbia. Through the 1980s First Nations in present-day British Columbia grew
extremely frustrated with the painfully slow pace of the federal governments comprehensive land claims process and
the provinces racist refusal to recognize Aboriginal title within its claimed borders. The result was a decades worth of
very disruptive and publicized blockades, which at their height in 1990 were such a common occurrence that Vancouver
newspapers felt the need to publish traffic advisories identifying delays caused by First Nation roadblocks in the
provinces interior. Many of the blockades were able to halt resource extraction on Native land for protracted periods of
4. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake. By 1989 the Algonquins of Barrier Lake were embroiled in a struggle to protect their
way of life by resisting clear-cut logging operations within their traditional territories in present-day Quebec. Under the
leadership of customary chief Jean-Maurice Matchewan, the community used blockades to successfully impede clearcutting activities adversely affecting their lands and community.62
5. The Temagami First Nation blockades of 1988 and 1989 in present-day Ontario. The Temagami blockades were set up
to protect their nations homeland from further encroachment by non-Native development. The blockades of 198889
were the most recent assertions of Temagami sovereignty in over a century-long struggle to protect the communitys
right to land and freedom from colonial settlement and proliferating economic development.63

From the vantage point of the colonial state, by the time the seventy-eight-day standoff at Kanesatake
started, things were already out of control in Indian Country. If settler-state stability and authority is
required to ensure certainty over Indigenous lands and resources to create an investment climate
friendly for expanded capitalist accumulation, then the barrage of Indigenous practices of disruptive
countersovereignty that emerged with increased frequency in the 1980s was an embarrassing
demonstration that Canada no longer had its shit together with respect to managing the so-called
Indian Problem. On top of this, the material form that these expressions of Indigenous sovereignty
took on the groundthe blockade, explicitly erected to impede the power of state and capital from
entering and leaving Indigenous territories respectivelymust have been particularly troubling to the
settler-colonial establishment. All of this activity was an indication that Indigenous people and
communities were no longer willing to wait for Canada (or even their own leaders) to negotiate a just
relationship with them in good faith. In Fanons terms, Indigenous peoples were no longer willing to
remain in their place.64 There was also growing concern that Indigenous youth in particular were no
longer willing to play by Canadas rulesespecially regarding the potential use of violencewhen it
came to advancing their communities rights and interests. As Georges Erasmus, then national chief of
the Assembly of First Nations, warned in 1988: Canada, if you do not deal with this generation of
leaders, then we cannot promise that you are going to like the kind of violent political action that we
can just about guarantee the next generation is going to bring to you. Consider this a warning,
Erasmus continued: We want to let you know that youre playing with fire. We may be the last
generation of leaders that are prepared to sit down and peacefully negotiate our concerns with you.65
Erasmuss warning was ignored, and the siege at Kanasatake occurred two years later.
In the wake of having to engage in one of the largest and costliest military operations since the
Korean War, the federal government announced on August 23, 1991, that a royal commission would
be established with a sprawling sixteen-point mandate to investigate the abusive relationship that had

clearly developed between Indigenous peoples and the state.66 Published two years behind schedule
in November 1996, the $58-million, five-volume, approximately four-thousand-page Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples offers a vision of reconciliation between Aboriginal
peoples and Canada based on the core principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing and
mutual responsibility.67 Of the 440 recommendations made by RCAP, the following are some of the
more noteworthy:
Legislation, including issuing a new Royal Proclamation, stating Canadas commitment to a new relationship with
companion legislation establishing a new treaty process and recognition of Aboriginal Nations governments;
Recognition of an Aboriginal order of government, subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with authority over
matters relating to the good government and welfare of Aboriginal peoples and their territories;
Replacement of the federal Department of Indian Affairs with two departments, one to implement the new relationship
with Aboriginal nations and one to provide services to non-self-governing communities;
Creation of an Aboriginal parliament;
Expansion of the Aboriginal land and resource base;
Recognition of Metis self-government, provision of a land base, and recognition of Metis rights to hunt and fish on Crown
Initiatives to address social, education, health, and housing needs, including the training of ten thousand health professionals
over a ten-year period, the establishment of an Aboriginal peoples university, and recognition of Aboriginal peoples
authority over child welfare.68

RCAPs vision of a reconciled relationship premised on mutual recognition is not without flaw
indeed, many critics have convincingly argued that its vision still ultimately situates Indigenous lands
and political authority in a subordinate position within the political and economic framework of
Canadian sovereignty.69 However, RCAP still offers the most comprehensive set of recommendations,
informed by five years of research involving 178 days of public hearings in 96 communities across
Canada, aimed at reforming the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state to date. The
extensive public consultations employed by RCAP subsequently produced a set of recommendations
with a significant degree of democratic legitimacy to them, especially to those Indigenous people and
communities who would be most affected by RCAPs proposals. At the very least, then, the RCAP
report provides a potentially productive point of entry into the much more challenging conversation
that we need to collectively have about what it will take to truly decolonize the relationship between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This conversation has yet to happen.
The decade of heightened First Nations militancy that culminated in the resistance at Kanesatake
created the political and cultural context that RCAPs call for recognition and reconciliation sought to
mitigatenamely, the simmering anger and resentment of the colonized transformed into a resurgent
affirmation of Indigenous difference that threatened to disrupt settler-colonialisms sovereign claim
over Indigenous peoples and our lands. In light of this, to suggest that we replace these emotions by a
more a conciliatory and constructive attitude like forgiveness seems misplaced to me.70 Of course,
individual and collective expressions of anticolonial anger and resentment can be destructive and
harmful to relationships; but these emotional forces are rarely, if ever, as destructive and violent as
the colonial relationship they critically call into question. The responsibility for violence, argues
Taiaiake Alfred, begins and ends with the state, not with the people who are challenging the inherent
injustices perpetrated by the state.71 Yet, as the history of First Nations struggle that led to RCAP

demonstrates, these emotions can also play an important role in generating practices of resistance and
cultural resurgence, both of which are required to build a more just relationship with non-Indigenous
peoples on and in relation to the lands that we now share. I return to this discussion in my concluding

Righteous Resentment? The Failure of Reconciliation from

Gathering Strength to Canadas Residential School Apology
The critical importance of Indigenous peoples emotional reactions to settler colonization appears
even more pronounced in light of Canadas problematic approach to conceptualizing and
implementing reconciliation in the wake of the RCAP report. There have been two broad criticisms of
the federal governments approach to reconciling its relationship with Indigenous peoples: the first
involves the states rigid historical temporalization of the problem in need of reconciling (colonial
injustice), which in turn leads to, second, the current politics of reconciliations inability to
adequately transform the structure of dispossession that continues to frame Indigenous peoples
relationship with the state.72 Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox captures these concerns well when she writes
that by conflating specific unjust events, policies, and laws with history, what is unjust becomes
temporally separate from the present, unchangeable. This narrows options for restitution: we cannot
change the past.73 In such a context, I argue that Indigenous peoples anger and resentment represents
an entirely understandableand, in Fanons words, legitimateresponse to our settler-colonial
The federal government officially responded to the recommendations of RCAP in January of 1998
with Gathering Strength: Canadas Aboriginal Action Plan.75 Claiming to build on RCAPs core
principles of mutual respect, mutual recognition, mutual responsibility, and sharing, Gathering
Strength begins with a Statement of Reconciliation in which the Government of Canada recognizes
the mistakes and injustices of the past in order to set a new course in its policies for Aboriginal
peoples.76 This is the first policy statement by the federal government that explicitly applies the
conceptual language typically associated with transitional justice to the nontransitional context of a
formally liberal democratic settler state. The result, I suggest, is an approach to reconciliation that
goes out of its way to fabricate a sharp divide between Canadas unscrupulous past and the
unfortunate legacy this past has produced for Indigenous people and communities in the present.
The policy implications of the states historical framing of colonialism are troubling. If there is no
colonial present, as Gathering Strength insists, but only a colonial past that continues to have
adverse effects on Indigenous people and communities, then the federal government need not
undertake the actions required to transform the current institutional and social relationships that have
been shown to produce the suffering we currently see reverberating at pandemic levels within and
across Indigenous communities today.77 Rather than addressing these structural issues, state policy has
instead focused its reconciliation efforts on repairing the psychologically injured or damaged status
of Indigenous people themselves. Sam McKegney links this policy orientation to the increased public
interest placed on the discourse of healing in the 1990s, which positioned Aboriginal people as the
primary objects of study rather than the system of acculturative violence.78 Hence, the only concrete
monetary commitment made in Gathering Strength includes a one-time grant payment of $350 million
allocated for community-based healing as a first step to deal with the legacy of physical and sexual

abuse at residential schools.79 The grant was used to establish the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in
March of 1998.80 The Conservative government of Canada announced in 2010 that additional funding
for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation would not be provided.
According to Taiaiake Alfred, Canadas approach to reconciliation has clearly failed to implement
the massive restitution, including land, financial transfers, and other forms of assistance to
compensate for past and continuing injustices against our peoples.81 The states lack of commitment
in this regard is particularly evident in Gathering Strengths stated position on Canadas land claims
and self-government policies. Rather than affirm Aboriginal title and substantially redistribute lands
and resources to Indigenous communities through a renewed treaty process, or recognize Indigenous
autonomy and redistribute political authority from the state to Indigenous nations based on the
principle of Indigenous self-determination, Gathering Strength essentially reiterates, more or less
unmodified, its present policy position as evidence of the essentially just nature of the current
relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state.
For example, regarding the comprehensive claims process, although Gathering Strength states
Canadas willingness to discuss its current approach with Aboriginal, provincial, and territorial
partners in order to respond to concerns about the existing policy, the alternatives that have since
been pursued are even more restrictive than was the original policy.82 At the time of Gathering
Strengths publication in 1998, the concerns alluded to by the federal government involved more
than two decades worth of First Nations criticisms regarding the comprehensive claims policys
extinguishment provisions, which at the time explicitly required Aboriginal peoples to cede,
release and surrender all undefined Aboriginal rights and title in exchange for the benefits clearly
delineated in the text of the settlement itself. The state has pursued two alternatives to formal
extinguishment: the so-called modified rights approach developed during negotiations over the
Nisgaa Final Agreement (2000), and the nonassertion approach developed during negotiations
over the Tlicho Agreement (2003).
With respect to the former, Aboriginal rights and title are no longer formally extinguished in the
settlement but rather modified to include only those rights and benefits outlined in the claim
package. The provisions detailed in the settlement are the only legally binding rights that the signatory
First Nation can claim after the agreement has been ratified. Regarding the latter, in order to reach a
settlement a First Nation must legally agree to not assert or claim any Aboriginal rights that are
not already detailed in the text of the agreement. Again, the provisions specified in the settlement
exhaust all claimable Aboriginal rights. Although the semantics of the comprehensive claims policy
have changed, the legal and political outcomes remain the same.83 Peter Kulchyski suggests that these
alternative approaches to formal extinguishment may be even worse than the original policy, given
that the latter at least left open the possibility of making a claim for an Aboriginal right that was
originally unforeseen at the time of signing an extinguishment agreement. Leave it to the state,
Kulchyski concludes, to find a way to replace one of its oldest, most outdated, ineffective and unjust
policiesthe extinguishment clausewith something worse.84
A similar colonial trend can be seen in Gathering Strengths stated commitment to implementing
an Aboriginal right to self-government. Here the federal government simply reaffirms its previous
1995 policy position on the matter, which claims to recognize the inherent right of self-government
for Aboriginal people as an existing Aboriginal right within section 35 of the Constitution Act,
1982. The use of the term inherent here is nonsense when considered in light of the scope of the

policy, as there is really nothing inherent about the limited range of rights that Canada claims to
recognize. The stated purpose of the federal governments position is to clearly establish the terms
under which Aboriginal governments might negotiate practical governing arrangements in relation
to their own communities and with other governments and jurisdictions. In setting out these terms,
however, the state unilaterally curtails the jurisdictional authority made available to Aboriginal
nations through the so-called negotiation process. As a result, Indigenous sovereignty and the right
of self-determination based on the principle of equality between peoples is explicitly rejected as a
foundation for negotiations: The inherent right of self-government does not include a right of
sovereignty in the international law sense. Instead, what the state grants is recognition of an
Aboriginal right to govern themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities,
integral to their unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institutions.85
One should recognize a familiar pattern here. Instead of proceeding with negotiations based on the
principle of Indigenous self-determination, Canadas policy framework is grounded in the assumption
that Aboriginal rights are subordinately positioned within the ultimate sovereign authority of the
Crown. On this point, Michael Asch has suggested that the policy clearly takes its cues from recent
Aboriginal rights jurisprudence: All court decisions rest on the presumption that, while it must be
quite careful to protect Aboriginal rights, Parliament has the ultimate legislative authority to act with
respect to any of them.86 This restrictive premise coincides with the Supreme Court of Canadas own
articulation of the meaning and purpose of reconciliation outlined in R. v. Van der Peet in 1996. As
the court states, what s. 35(1) does is provide the constitutional framework through which the fact
that aboriginals lived on the land in distinctive societies, with their own practices, traditions and
cultures, is acknowledged and reconciled with the Crown. The substantive rights that fall within the
provision must be defined in light of this purpose; the aboriginal rights recognized and affirmed by s.
35(1) must be directed towards reconciliation of the pre-existence of Aboriginal societies with the
sovereignty of the Crown.87 And how, might we ask, does the court propose to reconcile the preexistence of Aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown? Or, stated slightly differently,
how does the court propose to render consistent Indigenous nationhood with state sovereignty? By
refusing that the aboriginal societies in question had anything akin to sovereignty worth recognizing
to begin with. Instead, what the court offers up is an interpretation of Aboriginal rights as narrowly
construed cultural rights that can be infringed on by the state for any number of legislative
reasonsranging from conservation to settlement, to capitalist nonrenewable resource development,
and even to protect white interests from the potential economic fallout of recognizing Aboriginal
rights to land and water-based economic pursuits. Like all Aboriginal rights in Canada, then, the right
of self-government is not absolute; even if such a right is found to be constitutionally protected, it can
be transgressed in accordance with the justifiable infringement test laid out in R. v. Sparrow in 1990
and later expanded on in decisions like R. v. Gladstone in 1996, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia in
1997 and R. v. Marshall (No. 2) in 1999.88 When all of these considerations are taken into account it
becomes clear that there is nothing inherent about the right to self-government recognized in
Canadas Inherent Right policy.
At least in Gathering Strength the federal government acknowledges that Canada has a colonial
past. The same cannot be said about the states next major gesture of reconciliation: the federal
governments official 2008 apology to Indigenous survivors of the Indian residential school system.
Informed by a similarly restrictive temporal frame, the 2008 apology focuses exclusively on the
tragedy of residential schools, the last of which officially closed its doors in 1996. There is no

recognition of a colonial past or present, nor is there any mention of the much broader system of land
dispossession, political domination, and cultural genocide of which the residential school system
formed only a part. Harpers apology is thus able, like Gathering Strength before it, to comfortably
frame reconciliation in terms of overcoming a sad chapter in our shared history. Forgiveness and
reconciliation are posited as a fundamental step in transcending the painful legacy that has
hampered our collective efforts to move on; they are necessary to begin anew so that Indigenous
peoples can start to build new partnerships together with non-Indigenous peoples on what is now
unapologetically declared to be our land.89
Thus, insofar as the above two examples even implicitly address the problem of settlercolonialism, they do so, to borrow Patrick Wolfes useful formulation, as an event and not a
structure: that is, as a temporally situated experience which occurred at some relatively fixed period
in history but which unfortunately continues to have negative consequences for our communities in the
present.90 By Wolfes definition, however, there is nothing historical about the character of settler
colonization in the sense just described. Settler-colonial formations are territorially acquisitive in
perpetuity. As Wolfe explains, settler colonialism has both negative and positive dimensions.
Negatively, it strives for the dissolution of native societies. Positively, it erects a new colonial
society on the expropriated land baseas I put it, settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a
structure not an event. In its positive aspect, elimination is an organizing principle of settler-colonial
society rather than a one-off (and superseded) occurrence.91 In the specific context of Canadian
settler-colonialism, although the means by which the colonial state has sought to eliminate Indigenous
peoples in order to gain access to our lands and resources have modified over the last two centuries
ranging from violent dispossession to the legislative elimination of First Nations legal status under
sexist and racist provisions of the Indian Act to the negotiation of what are still essentially land
surrenders under the present comprehensive land claims policythe ends have always remained the
same: to shore up continued access to Indigenous peoples territories for the purposes of state
formation, settlement, and capitalist development.
Identifying the persistent character of settler-colonialism allows us to better interrogate the
repeated insinuation made in both Gathering Strength and the federal governments 2008 apology
about how the legacy of Canadas troubled history has injured Indigenous subjects so deeply that
many of us are now unable or unwilling to put the events of the past behind us. This returns us to our
previous discussion of ressentiment. If ressentiment is characterized by a pathological inability to
get over the past, then according to the state-sanctioned discourse of reconciliation, Indigenous
peoples would appear to suffer from ressentiment writ large. We just cannot seem to get over it.
However, for most critics what makes ressentiment so problematic is that it is also an irrational
attitude. Ressentiment, by definition, is an irrational and base passion, writes Jeffrie Murphy, It
thus makes no sense to speak of rational or justified or honourable ressentiment.92 This has led
moral philosophers like Murphy and Brudholm to distinguish between irrational expressions of
ressentiment, on the one hand, and more righteous expressions of resentment, on the other. This
distinction is useful for our present purposes. In the context of Canadian settler-colonialism, I contend
that what gets implicitly represented by the state as a form of Indigenous ressentimentnamely,
Indigenous peoples seemingly pathological inability to get over harms inflicted in the pastis
actually a manifestation of our righteous resentment: that is, our bitter indignation and persistent
anger at being treated unjustly by a colonial state both historically and in the present. In other words,
what is treated in the Canadian discourse of reconciliation as an unhealthy and debilitating incapacity

to forgive and move on is actually a sign of our critical consciousness, of our sense of justice and
injustice, and of our awareness of and unwillingness to reconcile ourselves with a structural and
symbolic violence that is still very much present in our lives. Viewed in this light, I suggest that
Indigenous peoples individual and collective resentmentexpressed as an angry and vigilant
unwillingness to forgiveought to be seen as an affective indication that we care deeply about
ourselves, about our land and cultural communities, and about the rights and obligations we hold as
First Peoples.

Prime Minister Harpers 2008 apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to Indian survivors
of the residential school system was delivered under the shadow of the 2007 Indian Residential
School Settlement Agreement. The settlement agreement was negotiated in response to more than
twelve thousand abuse cases and more than seventy thousand former students represented in numerous
class-action lawsuits against the federal government and church organizations that ran the schools.
The settlement, which is currently being implemented under court supervision, includes money
allocated for common experience payments to students who attended residential schools; a
compensation process for students who can demonstrate that they suffered sexual or serious physical
and/or mental abuse while attending a residential school; a health support system for survivors and
their families; a residential school commemoration project; and the creation of a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission to research, document and preserve the testimony and experiences of
residential school survivors.93
The specific commemorative and educational goals outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Canadas (TRC) mandate are important and admirable. However, many of the
shortcomings that plagued both Gathering Strength and the 2008 apology also plague the mandates
terms of reference. In particular, the TRC temporally situates the harms of settler-colonialism in the
past and focuses the bulk of its reconciliatory efforts on repairing the injurious legacy left in the wake
of this history. Indigenous subjects are the primary object of repair, not the colonial relationship.
These shortcomings have produced many critics of the TRC. Taiaiake Alfred, for example, warns that
genuine reconciliation is impossible without recognizing Indigenous peoples right to freedom and
self-determination, instituting restitution by returning enough of our lands so that we can regain
economic self-sufficiency, and honoring our treaty relationships. Without these commitments
reconciliation will remain a pacifying discourse that functions to assuage settler guilt, on the one
hand, and absolve the federal governments responsibility to transform the colonial relationship
between Canada and Indigenous nations, on the other.94
If this were not enough to raise concern, since negotiating the 2007 Residential School Settlement
Agreement and offering the 2008 apology, the federal government has intensified its colonial
approach to dealing with Indigenous peoples in practice. This intensification is most evident in the
federal governments recently passed omnibus Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Jobs and Growth
Act. Bill C-45 is a nearly 450-page budget implementation bill that makes significant changes to
Canadas Navigable Water Act, the Indian Act, and the Environmental Assessment Act, among other
pieces of federal legislation. Of concern to Indigenous people and communities in particular are the
ways that Bill C-45 unilaterally undermines Aboriginal and treaty rights by making it easier for First
Nations band councils to lease out reserve lands with minimal community input or support, by gutting

environmental protection for lakes and rivers, and by reducing the number of resource development
projects that would have required environmental assessment under previous legislation.
Bill C-45 thus represents the latest installment of Canadas longstanding policy of colonial
dispossession. This has led Indigenous people from all sectors of Indian Country to organize and
resist under the mantra that we are Idle No More! Through social media, the Idle No More
movement emerged with force in December 2012 as a result of the initial educational work of four
women from the prairiesNina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon, and Sheelah McLean.
Then, on December 11, Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Cree Nation began a hunger strike
to protest the deplorable living conditions on her reserve in northern Ontario, which she argued was
the result of Canadas failure to live up to the spirit and intent of Treaty No. 9 (signed in 1905).
Building on the inspirational work of these women, what originally began as an education campaign
against a repugnant piece of federal legislation has since transformed into a grassroots struggle to
transform the colonial relationship itself.
Drawing off the insights of Fanon, I have argued two points in this chapter. First, I claimed that
Indigenous peoples anger and resentment can generate forms of decolonized subjectivity and
anticolonial practice that we ought to critically affirm rather than denigrate in our premature efforts to
promote forgiveness and reconciliation on terms still largely dictated by the colonial state. And
second, in light of the failure of Canadas approach to implement reconciliation in the wake of RCAP,
I suggest that critically holding on to our anger and resentment can serve as an important emotional
reminder that settler-colonialism is still very much alive and well in Canada, despite the states
repeated assertions otherwise.
In the next chapter I return to Fanon, although in a more critical light. I argue that although Fanon
saw colonized peoples anger and resentment as an important catalyst for change he nevertheless
remained skeptical as to whether the rehabilitated forms of Indigenous subjectivity constructed out of
this anger and resentment ought to inform our collective efforts to reconstruct decolonized
relationships and communities. In contradistinction to Fanon, I argue that insofar as these reactive
emotions result in the affirmation and resurgence of Indigenous knowledge and cultural practices, they
ought to be seen as providing the substantive foundation required to reconstruct relationships of
reciprocity and peaceful coexistence within and against the psycho-affective and structural apparatus
of settler-colonial power. In my concluding chapter I defend this claim in light of the recent Idle No
More movement.

The Plunge into the Chasm of the Past
Fanon, Self-Recognition, and Decolonization

Negritude is for destroying itself, it is a passage and not an outcome, a means and not an ultimate end.
Jean-Paul Sartre, Black Orpheus
In no way do I have to dedicate myself to reviving a black civilization unjustly ignored. I will not make myself the
man of any past. I do not want to sing the past to the detriment of my present and my future.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

This chapter begins to sketch out in more detail the alternative politics of recognition briefly
introduced at the end of chapter 1. As suggested there, far from evading the recognition paradigm
entirely, Fanon instead turns our attention to the cultural practices of critical individual and collective
self-recognition that colonized populations often engage in to empower themselves, instead of relying
too heavily on the colonial state and society to do this for them. This is the realm of self-affirmative
cultural, artistic, and political activity that Fanon associated largely but not exclusively with
negritude. The negritude movement first emerged in France during the late 1930s as a response to
anti-black racism. Although negritude constituted a diverse body of work and activism, at its core the
movement emphasized the need for colonized people and communities to purge themselves of the
internalized effects of systemic racism and colonial violence by rejecting assimilation and instead
affirming the worth of their own identity-related differences. In this sense, it has been argued that
negritude represents an important precursor to contemporary identity politics in the United States
and elsewhere.1
However, despite the extensive commentary that Fanons relationship to negritude has generated,
no clear consensus has been reached regarding the extent to which he ought to be read as a critic or
supporter of the movements claims and achievements. For example, some commentators, such as
David Caute, Irene Grendzier and David Macey, have suggested that where Fanon can be read in his
early work (particularly Black Skin, White Masks) as more sympathetic to certain aspects of
negritudes objectives, over time he eventually came to stress the movements limitations, either
seeing it as representing, at best, a transitional stage in the dialectic of decolonization (following
the position of Jean-Paul Sartre discussed below), or worse, as having little substantive value
whatsoever.2 Other critics, however, have advanced a near-opposite reading. As Jock McCullock
writes with reference to Caute and Grendzier: If the substance of these critiques are examined in
detail, it is apparent that Fanon became more rather than less sympathetic to negritude with the
passing of time.3 And yet other commentators have refused to draw a sharp distinction between early
and late Fanons views on negritude altogether, instead arguing that, although the specifics of Fanons
complex views altered as his analysis moved from the Antilles to the Algerian contexts, he
nevertheless always remained simultaneously a rigorous critic and critical advocate of certain

features (and certain proponents) of the negritude movement.4

The interpretation advanced below is indebted to this third reading of Fanon. I demonstrate that
although Fanon always questioned the specifics of negritude based on its, at times, essentialist and
bourgeois character, he nevertheless viewed the associated practices of individual and collective
self-recognition through the revaluation of black culture, history, and identity as a potentially crucial
feature of the broader struggle for freedom against colonial domination. This potential hinged,
however, entirely on negritudes ability to transcend what Fanon saw as its retrograde orientation
towards a subjective affirmation of a precolonial past by grounding itself in the peoples struggle
against the material structure of colonial rule in the present.
Although Fanon saw the critical revaluation of Indigenous cultural forms as an important means of
temporarily breaking the colonized free from the incapacitating effects of being exposed to structured
patterns of colonial misrecognition, he was decidedly less willing to explore the role that these forms
and practices might play in the construction of alternatives to the oppressive social relations that
produce colonized subjects in the first place. This has led Katherine Gines to correctly conclude that
while Fanon recognized the importance of affirming cultural difference as a form of individual and
collective self-empowerment, he was less clear as to whether these differences ought to be
substantively retained in the course of decolonization.5 In this specific sense, then, it will be shown
that Fanon clearly shared Sartres view that negritudes emphasis on cultural self-affirmation
constituted an important means but not an ultimate end of anticolonial struggle, even though both
authors arrived at this analogous conclusion via different paths.
This chapter is organized into two sections and a conclusion. In the first section, I sketch the theory
of intersubjective recognition that Sartre develops in Being and Nothingness, Anti-Semite and Jew,
and Black Orpheus. As Sonia Kruks and others have noted, Fanons work was for better and for
worse deeply influenced by Sartres philosophical and political writings, particularly as these
writings pertain to issues of recognition, reciprocity, and freedom.6 Thus, to fully understand what I
characterize as the limited transitional function that Fanon attributes to practices of self-recognition
and cultural empowerment in the course of anticolonial struggle, we must first unpack Sartres earlier
views on these and similar matters. In the next section, I examine the instrumental relationship Fanon
draws in his work between cultural self-recognition and projects of decolonization. This discussion
will pave the way for the argument I lay out in my concluding chapter, which examines the substantive
relationship forged between self-affirmative practices of cultural regeneration and decolonization by
theorists and activists of Indigenous resurgence working in the settler-colonial context of Canada.

From the Particular to the Universal: Jean-Paul Sartre, Identity

Politics, and the Colonial Dialectic
Sartres Anti-Semite and Jew provides an analysis of the nature of French anti-Semitism in the wake
of World War II.7 Although many scholars have since criticized Sartres hyper-constructivist account
of Judaism and Jewish identity as a mere effect of anti-Semitismreflected in Sartres famous
assertion that it is the anti-Semite who creates the Jew8in the following section I want to bracket
these well-warranted criticisms. Instead I want to focus on the logic underwriting Sartres argument
in order to demonstrate the transitional role he attributes to the recognition and self-affirmation of
identity or difference in the struggle for freedom and equality on the one hand, and the ways in which

Fanon simultaneously adapts and critiques this position in his writings on decolonization on the other.
Sartres project in Anti-Semite and Jew is best read as a practical reworking of his prior
engagement with Hegels dialectic of recognition in Being and Nothingness, only this time cast, like
Fanons later intervention in Black Skin, White Masks through the lens of European racism. In stark
contrast to Hegels optimistic portrayal of intersubjective recognition in the Phenomenology of
Spirit,9 Sartres rendition of the master/slave relation in Being and Nothingness denies the
possibility of reciprocal relations of affirmative recognition. Although Sartre, like Hegel,
acknowledges the role played by recognition in constituting subjectivity, unlike Hegel, Sartre portrays
this constitution as a theft, as objectification, and as such the death of [ones] possibilities.10 For
Sartre recognition constitutes a form of enslavement, of being fixed by the look of another.11 As
Sonia Kruks observes, the Other, in Sartres account, is always a threat to my own experience of
self, having the power to objectify me and to cause me to flee into self-objectification.12 According
to Sartre, the only way out of this situation is for the objectified to make the other into the object of
ones own look, to turn back the gaze, thereby reversing the process of objectification.13 At the heart
of Sartres theory of intersubjectivity, then, is the notion that recognition is forever mired in a power
struggle, a constant unending conflict between subjects who seek to make each other objects of the
gaze as the precondition of reclaiming their inner freedom.14 Conflict thus constitutes the core of
Sartres account of being-for-others.15
However, when applied to the concrete situation of the Jew in an anti-Semitic society, the option of
reversing the gaze and thus ones objectified status is denied by Sartre. This is because the Jew is not
only objectified in the ontological sense of being-for-othersas the condition of his or her
fundamental relation to othersbut also as a Jew. This is what Sartre means when he states that the
Jew is overdetermined.16 Overdetermination fundamentally undermines the Jews ability to cast the
gaze back. Anti-Semitism thus constitutes a relationship in which the gaze works unilaterally between
the one who objectifies (the anti-Semite) and the one who is objectified (the Jew).
What, then, are the options available to the Jew in the context of anti-Semitic racism? Here Sartre
introduces two concepts fundamental to his existentialism: authenticity and inauthenticity. The most
common response explored in Anti-Semite and Jew is represented by the actions of the inauthentic
Jew. According to Sartre, the inauthentic Jew is one who chooses to flee from his or her situation as
a Jew. For Sartre, the Jews situation is the ensemble of limits and restrictionssocial, economic,
political, culturalthat forms [the Jew] and determines his possibilities. Yet the Jews situation is
also given meaning through the choices he or she makes within and by it.17 In short, the Jews
situation is the inherited field within which he or she must act, make choices, and derive meaning
and this context is, whether one likes it or not, an anti-Semitic one. Sartre suggests that, when faced
with the painful burden of living in this situation, the inauthentic Jew will choose to run away from
it, to deny it, or choose to deny their responsibilities to positively act within it.18 Sartre equates
inauthenticity here with assimilation, the process whereby the Jew, suffering from an inferiority
complex,19 seeks to reject her or his particularity by either appealing to abstract universal principles
(what today we might call difference-blind equality), or by trying to eradicate her or his
particularity as such (through religious conversion, secularization, intermarriage, and so on).20
Although Sartres portrait of the inauthentic Jew is not meant to cast moral blame on the Jew for his
or her evasive actions, Sartre is nonetheless quick to suggest that these actions serve to double back
and reinforce the anti-Semitic propaganda that prompted the evasive conduct in the first place.21 In

short, the inauthentic Jew has allowed himself to be persuaded by the anti-Semites; he is the first
victim of their propaganda. He admits with them that, if there is a Jew, he must have the
characteristics with which popular malevolence endows him.22
Sartre then contrasts the conduct of the inauthentic Jew with the actions of the Jew who acts
authentically in their situation. Faced with this situation the authentic Jew actively commits to
affirming his or her Jewish identity against the objectifying gaze of the anti-Semite. The authentic Jew
refuses to let the racist propaganda of the anti-Semite determine from the outside her or his actions,
his or her being. Instead he stakes everything on human grandeur [and in accepting] the obligation to
live in a situation that is defined precisely by the fact that it is unliveable . . . he derives pride from
his humiliation.23 It is through this gesture of self-affirmation that the Jew strips anti-Semitism of its
discursive power and virulence. As Sartre explains: The inauthentic Jew flees Jewish reality, and
the anti-Semite makes him a Jew in spite of himself; but the authentic Jew makes himself a Jew, in the
face of all and against all. He accepts all, even martyrdom, and the anti-Semite, deprived of his
weapon, must be content to yelp at the Jew as he goes by, and can no longer touch him. At one stroke
the Jew, like any authentic man, escapes description.24 For Sartre, then, authentic self-affirmation
provides an important weapon in the Jews fight against the objectifying and alienating effects of antiSemitic overdetermination. But given that anti-Semitism is a socially constituted phenomenon, Sartre
is quick to point out that, while authenticity may serve as an important means through which to work
over the individualized effects of objectification, on its own it will do little to undercut the social
relations constitutive of anti-Semitism as such. The choice of authenticity is not a solution of the
social aspect of the Jewish problem, writes Sartre.25 Rather, it appears to be a moral decision,
bringing certainty to the Jew on the ethical [or subjective] level but in no way serving as a solution on
the social or political level.26 For Sartre, the transformative potential of affirming ones difference
will always be limited insofar as it leaves intact the generative conditions that serve to reproduce
anti-Semitic conduct on the one hand, and the effects that this conduct has in shaping the subjectivity
of Jews on the other. Ending anti-Semitism thus requires that existential self-affirmation be cashed out
in a transformative engagement with these generative conditions; it requires that the Jews situation
be transformed from the bottom up.27 For the increasingly Marxist Sartre of the mid-1940s, the
generative structures identified as most important in the fight against anti-Semitic racism were those
associated with capitalism and class conflict. In Sartres (overly simplistic) formulation, antiSemitism served to ideologically mask the root cause of class conflict by positing the Jewish
community as the source of class antagonism instead of the capitalist mode of production. Seen in this
light, anti-Semitism represents a mythical, bourgeois representation of the class struggle, and [as
such] could not exist in a classless society. Following this logic, once the social and economic
causes of anti-Semitism have been eliminated, the affirmation of Jewish difference will no longer be
required; indeed, after the revolution has created a world stripped of the economic/social pluralism
within which anti-Semitic racism flourishes, affirming Jewish difference would be at best redundant,
or worse, it might serve to ideologically reproduce its own divisions and thus foreclose the
possibility of a society free from conflict and social stratification.28 Here the politics of difference is
implicitly posited as an important stage in the struggle against anti-Semitic racism, but in no way
should it be conceived as an end in itself.
Similar themes are further developed and elaborated by Sartre in Black Orpheus, his wellknown preface to Lopold Senghors 1948 anthology of negritude poetry, Anthologie de la nouvelle
posie ngre at malgache de langue franaise.29 However, unlike the situation sketched in Anti-

Semite and Jew two years earlier, Sartre, now explicitly Marxist in orientation, begins Black
Orpheus with an important distinction drawn between the situation faced by the Jew in his or her
encounter with anti-Semitism, and that of the colonized black person in the context of anti-black
racism. Like the condition of the Jew vis--vis anti-Semitic racism, and now the white worker vis-vis the capitalist mode of production, Sartre locates the oppression of colonized black people in
the capitalist structure of . . . society. However, unlike the situations of the Jew and the white
worker, the black person finds him or herself a victim of capitalist exploitation and domination
insofar as he is black and by virtue of being a colonized native or deported African. In other
words, for the colonized black worker, capitalist exploitation and domination is mediated through the
lens of race and through the lived experience of racism. Now, as we saw previously, for Sartre, the
victimization of Jews by capitalism is also mediated through anti-Semitism and their experience as
Jews, but he then goes on to explain that, unlike the Jew, there is no means of evasion for the black
person; no passing that he can consider: a Jewa white man among white mencan deny that he
is a Jew, can declare himself a man among men. The [N]egro cannot deny that he is a [N]egro, nor can
he deny that he is part of some abstract colorless humanity: he is black.30
What does this mean for the black subject who chooses to act authentically in her or his situation?
Here Sartre claims that the black person essentially has his back up against the wall of
authenticity.31 As he explains: Having been insulted and formally enslaved, [the black person] picks
up the word nigger which was thrown at him like a stone, he draws himself erect and proudly
proclaims himself as black, in the face of the white man. The unity which will come eventually,
bringing all oppressed peoples together in the same struggle, must be preceded in the colonies by
what I shall call the moment of separation or negativity; this anti-racist racism is the only road that
will lead to the abolition of racial differences.32
In positing negritude as an anti-racist racism that will eventually lead to the abolition of racial
and class differentiation altogether, Sartre is situating the formation of black consciousness in relation
to a distinction, often attributed to Marx, between a class that exists in-itself and one that exists
for-itself.33 Without going into too much detail here, a class that exists in-itself represents the
objective, structural positioning of a group in relation to the capitalist mode of production. Whereas a
class that exists for-itself is one that has become conscious of itself as a class and then proceeds to
struggle for-itself and thus in its own shared interests. And, of course, the primary agenda of a class
that struggles for-itself is to root out the conditions (capitalist production) that determine its existence
as a class. However, since the lived, subjective experience of race and racism occupies a mediating
position in the exploitation and domination of black people by capitalism, recognizing that socialism
is the necessary answer to [the] immediate local claims of black people first requires that they
learn to formulate these claims jointly; therefore they must [first] think of themselves as blacks.
Hence, Sartre concludes that becoming conscious for black workers is different from that which
Marxism tries to awaken in the white worker. In the case of the European proletariat, class
consciousness is based on the objective characteristics of the situation of the proletariat. But since
the selfish scorn that whites display for blacks . . . is aimed at the deepest recesses of the heart,
[black people] must oppose it with a more exact view of black subjectivity.34 For Sartre, developing
this subjective opposition is the critical role played by negritude in anticapitalist and antiracist
So, then, for Sartre, becoming conscious of ones objective class position in the context of
racialized capitalism requires that black people first work over the subjective dimension of race and

racism. One cannot hope to uproot the social relations that give rise to both class exploitation and
racial domination without first coming to grips with the corrosive effects that white supremacy has
had on those subject to it. This is why Sartre attributes to negritude a revolutionary function in the
struggle against capitalist imperialism.35 In short, disalienation through the affirmative reconstruction
of black subjectivity, which, as Aim Csaire once noted, strikes at the core of what the negritude
movement was all about,36 serves as the precondition for establishing broader bonds of social
solidarity and collective struggle. However, like the Marxist notion of a class that exists for-itself, the
moment that black consciousness comes to fruition and affirms its worth as such, it must immediately
seek to abolish itself as a form of individual/collective identification. In doing so, Sartre claims that
the subjective, existential, ethnic notion of negritude passes, as Hegel says, into the objective,
positive, and precise, notion of the proletariat.37
At this point we arrive at Sartres infamous characterization of negritude as a transitional phase in
a dialectical move from the particularity of identity politics to the universality of class struggle.38
Negritude appears, writes Sartre, as a minor moment of a dialectical progression: the theoretical
and practical affirmation of white supremacy is the thesis; the position of negritude as the antithetical
value is the moment of negativity. But this negative moment is not sufficient in itself, and these blacks
who use it know this perfectly well; they know that it aims at preparing the synthesis or realization of
the human in a raceless society. Sartre then goes on to conclude that negritude is [thus] for
destroying itself, it is a passage and not an outcome, a means and not an ultimate end.39 Once again,
here Sartre appears to portray the politics of difference much like he did in Anti-Semite and Jew: as
an important (even necessary) stage in the struggle against capitalist exploitation and racial
domination, but ultimately insufficient as an end in itself.

Frantz Fanon on Negritude, Self-Recognition, and Decolonization

As discussed previously in chapter 1, one of the central concerns animating Fanons analysis in Black
Skin, White Masks is the problem of recognition in situations marked by colonial racism. In this
sense, I argue that Fanons early work ought to be interpreted much like Sartres Anti-Semite and Jew
and Black Orpheus: as a practical reworking of Hegels master/slave relation in contexts where the
possibility of achieving affirmative relations of mutual recognition appears foreclosed. Like Sartres
portrayal of intersubjectivity discussed above, Fanons phenomenological account of being-forothers in Black Skin, White Masks emphasizes the ultimately objectifying and alienating character of
intersubjective recognition, especially when these relations are played out in contexts structured by
racial or cultural inequality. Indeed, throughout his text, Fanon describes the experience of colonial
recognition in profoundly negative terms, like being fixed or walled in by the violating gaze of
another.40 Far from being emancipatory and self-confirming, recognition is instead cast as a
suffocating reification, a hemorrhage that causes the colonized to collapse into selfobjectification.41 However, unlike the situation of Sartres Jew in Anti-Semite and Jew, when fixated
on the colonized black subject the gaze takes on a new significance for Fanon: I am not given a
second chance. I am overdetermined from the outside. I am a slave not to the idea that others have
of me, but to my appearance.42 This leads Fanon to declare that the black man, unlike the Jew, has
no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man.43 Here Fanon appears to be making a
qualification in line with the distinction Sartre came to make in Black Orpheus regarding the
difference between the situation of the Jew vis--vis anti-Semitic racism, and that of the colonized

black person vis--vis anti-black racism.

How do colonized populations tend to respond to this situation? According to Fanon, like Sartres
Jew, the colonized black persons most common response is that of flight.44 As Fanon describes,
colonial recognition will often provoke within the oppressed a desire to escape their particularity,
to negate the differences that mark them as morally deficient and inferior in the eyes of the colonizer:
The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is wicked, the Negro is ugly.45 Once
internalized, these derogatory images often produce a pathological yearning to be recognized not as
Black, but as White.46 Fanon uses a number of terms to describe the result of this process:
inferiority complex, psycho-existential complex, neurosis, and alienation being the most
common. All of these designations are used by Fanon to describe the subjectifying hold that colonial
power can have on those within its reach. Seen in this light, there is nothing inherent about the
perceived inferiority attributed to colonized subjects by the dominant society, nor is there anything
natural about the so-called complexes they suffer as a result.47 Both are the product of colonial
social relations: If there is a flaw, it lies not in the soul of the [colonized] individual, but in his
This, then, is the problematic that Fanon sets out to address in the bulk of his work: namely, what
forms of decolonial praxis must one individually and collectively undertake to subvert the interplay
between structure and subjectivity that sustain colonial relations over time. Fanons complex
engagement with negritude is best understood when examined against this dual-structured conception
of power. Fanon argued that insofar as the negritude movement sought to undercut the incapacitating
effects of internalized racism by discursively reinscribing value and worth to those identity-related
differences that colonial discourse had hitherto characterized as savage, dirty, and evil, it constituted
a potentially powerful first move in the struggle for freedom.49 The logic here is that one cannot hope
to restructure the social relations of colonialism if the inferiority complex produced by these
relations is left in place.50 But Fanons endorsement of negritudes approach to self-recognition was
by no means absolute. Indeed, as his narrative continues it becomes apparent that the very attributes
of negritude that he saw as potentially the most empowering in the subjective spherenamely, the
rehabilitation of the colonized subject based on a revaluation of black history and cultureare also
the ones that threaten to undercut the movements transformative potential in the structural sphere.
What is important to keep in mind, then, is a distinction Fanon highlights between what Nigel Gibson
has called, negritudes objective limitations, and its subjective necessity.51
In Black Skin, White Masks negritudes subjective worth is expressed most in chapter 5, The
Lived Experience of the Black Man.52 At this point in the text Fanon is faced with the realization that
appealing to the [white] Other for recognition is a lost cause, and as a result he decides to instead
assert himself as a BLACK MAN.53 Since the Other was reluctant to recognize me, there was only
one answer: to make myself known.54 In doing so, Fanon found himself fervently excavating black
antiquity and what he discovered left [him] speechless: not only was the white man wrong, black
people were not primitive or subhuman and belonged to a civilization in its own rightwith its
own history, values, traditions, and achievements.55 This discovery, made possible by the path forged
by the negritude poets, left Fanon feeling empowered, confident, and mobilized: it provided, if only
momentarily, the sense of self-worth, dignity, and respect that recognition from the dominant society
had not only failed to deliver, but undercut at every step of the way. Subsequently, Fanon was no
longer willing to be recognized on terms imposed by the colonizer: Accommodate me as I am; Im

not accommodating anyone.56

Later in the chapter negritudes subjective significance is again emphasized, this time in relation to
Sartres controversial portrayal of the movement as a mere phase in the unfolding trajectory of
class struggle.57 Fanon writes: When I read this . . . I felt they had robbed me of my last chance. . . .
We had appealed to a friend of the colored peoples, and this friend had found nothing better to do than
demonstrate the relativity of [our] actions. After being denied affirmative recognition from the
colonial society, Fanon now found himself having to defend his self-affirmative actions against the
position of a self-professed ally. All approaches seemed to cash out in a loss: I couldnt hope to
win, writes Fanon; I wanted to be typically blackthat was out of the question. I wanted to be
whitethat was a joke. And when I tried to claim my negritude intellectually as a concept, they
snatched it away from me.58 Consequently, the foundation upon which Fanon had managed to carve
out a constructive relation-to-self was again cut from under him: I sensed my shoulders slipping
from this world, and my feet no longer felt the caress of the ground. Without a black past, without a
black future, it was impossible for me to live my blackness. Not yet white, no longer completely
black, I was damned.59 In characterizing negritudes reconstruction of black subjectivity as a
temporary moment in the historical narrative of class struggle, Sartre effectively stripped Fanon of his
newly won consciousness.
If it were not for the concluding chapter of Black Skin, White Masks it would be easy to see how
Fanons quite visceral response to Sartres interpretation could be read as an unqualified
endorsement of negritudes plunge into the absolute of black history, identity, and
consciousness.60 However, as his narrative continues, at least three problems or limitations with
negritude are revealed. The first has to do with the power of negritude resting on a simple inversion
of colonial discourse. Insofar as the negritude movement sought to undo colonial subjection by
reversing the binary terms of dominationby reinscribing what was once denigrated and demeaned
with worth and valueit remained, for Fanon, pathologically fixated around a value structure
ultimately predetermined by colonial society. Thus, even though it might appear as though the
empowerment derived from this process reflects an authentic instance of selfaffirmation/determination, in reality this expression of resistance is still, for Fanon, overdetermined
from the outside.61 Its is an expression of the colonizeds ressentiment insofar as the colonizer
remains the actional subject locked in their position of superiority as the creator of values, and the
colonized remain the subject of reaction locked in their subordinated position whose values remain
inversely bound by those of their masters.62 As Fanon explains elsewhere, in this initial phase, it is
the action, the plans of the occupier that determine the centres of resistance around which [the]
peoples will to survive becomes organized. . . . It is the white man who creates the Negro. But is the
Negro who creates negritude.63 Instead of disrupting the Manichean value structure of
savage/civilized, colonizer/colonized itself, negritudes attempt to restore the Native subject as an
agent of history through an inversion of colonial discourse remains comfortably within the very binary
logic that has played such a crucial role in justifying the colonial relation in the first place.
The second contentious issue Fanon identifies involves what we might today call negritudes
essentialist conception of black subjectivity. It is generally recognized among Fanon scholars that
this angle of Fanons analysis is directed largely at the objectivist strand within negritude,
represented clearest in the work of Lopold Senghor.64 Fanons anti-essentialist critique has two
elements. The first is empirical: in Fanons view the unified and undifferentiated black or

African subject hailed by Senghor simply does not exist. The black experience is ambiguous,
writes Fanon, for there is not one Negrothere are many black men.65 Seen in this light, it is
clearly nonsense to speak of negritude as the totality of values representing black civilization as
such; not only [the values] of the peoples of black Africa, but also of the black minorities of
America, or even Asia or the South Sea Islands.66 There are Blacks of Belgium, French and British
nationality, and there are Black republics, writes Fanon. How can we claim to grasp the essence
when such facts demand our attention?67 Fanons second criticism has more to do with power. His
concern here is that many of the specific characteristics and supposed cultural traits that Senghor
targets for reinscriptionirrationality, rhythm, animism, oneness with nature, sensualityseem to be
more the product of racist stereotyping disseminated through colonial discourse than empirically
verifiable attributes of precontact African societies.68 What negritude refers to as the black soul is
in Fanons view a construction by white folk.69 Fanons point here is that if the structural foundation
of colonial rule is at least in part justified through the ideological propagation of racially
essentialized binaries, then, in the long run, the logic of negritudes own essentialist revaluation of
values could undermine its emancipatory potential.
Fanons third criticism is directed squarely at negritudes elitism and therefore its questionable
relevance to those struggling against colonial-capitalist domination and exploitation on the ground.
According to Fanon, one of negritudes main problems was that it tended to inadvertently displace or
downplay contemporary questions of colonial political economy by focusing too narrowly on
revaluing the historical achievements of colonized cultures and societies. Relating this issue back to
the exploited blacks of Martiniques sugarcane plantations, Fanon writes: It would never occur to us
to ask these men to rethink their concept of history. Indeed, the few worker comrades that I have
had the opportunity to meet in Paris have never thought to ask themselves about discovering a black
past. They knew they were black, but, they told me, that didnt change a thing. And damn right they
were. For Fanon, the required solution for this community is to fight, to focus their struggle against
the ossified structure of bourgeois colonial society directly. For Fanon, it is by taking a stand
against this living death that we can hope to bring about decolonization in a truly substantive sense.70
Taken together, then, these three limitations inform Fanons conclusion in Black Skin, White Masks
that, although the process of self-affirmative recognition at the core of projects like negritude
represents a potential source of empowerment for colonized populations suffering the effects of
internalized racism, this potential hinges on its ability to motivate praxis that is attentive to the
structural as well as the subjective features of colonial rule. Understood this way, I suggest that
Fanons position in Black Skin, White Masks is not entirely unlike that of Sartres in Black
Orpheus, although they arrive at their respective views via markedly different paths. When Fanon
reprimands Sartre for characterizing the self-affirmative reconstruction of black subjectivity as a
phase in the unfolding dialectic of anticolonial class struggle, he is challenging Sartres deterministic
understanding of the dialectic, not his claim that this process represents a stage in a broader
struggle for freedom and equality.71 Indeed, by the time we reach Fanons conclusion in Black Skin,
White Masks it is clear that the cluster of practices associated with self-recognition are valuable only
insofar as they reestablish the colonized as historical protagonists oriented toward a change in the
colonial social structure.72 The moment that this process takes hold, however, the emphasis placed on
revaluing precolonial culture and history proceeds to either lose its critical purchase in the fight for
freedom, or becomes an impediment to freedom as such. This leads Fanon to assert: In no way do I
have to dedicate myself to reviving a black civilization unjustly ignored. I will not make myself the

man of any past. I do not want to sing my past to the detriment of my present and future.73 Although
Fanon concedes that articulating a positive vision of the future requires some prior effort to break the
hold of colonial subjection, and that this step often involves revaluing those historical and cultural
forms that colonialism sought to denigrate and destroy, in the end it is only by moving beyond these
historical and instrumental givens that one can truly initiate the cycle of freedom.74 Like Sartre
before him, Fanon portrays the identity politics of negritude as an important means to achieving
anticolonial struggle, but not an end to the struggle itself.
In Fanons later writings similar themes are developed and explored. For example, in his 1955
article West Indians and Africans Fanon begins by reiterating his earlier concern regarding
negritudes essentialist portrayal of an undifferentiated black subject: When one says Negro
people, one systematically assumes that all Negroes agree on certain things, that they share a
principle of communion.75 However, the truth, writes Fanon, is that there is nothing, a priori, to
warrant the assumption that such a thing as a Negro people exists.76 Again, here Fanon is not content
with simply challenging the empirical validity of such a characterization; rather, the problem is
fundamentally one of power: The object of lumping Negroes together under the designation of
Negro people is to deprive them of any possibility of individual expression and to put them under
the obligation of matching the idea one has of them.77 Here it appears that where Fanon was initially
concerned in Black Skin, White Masks with the ways in which self-essentialized constructions of
black identity could inadvertently feed back into and justify hierarchical relations between the
colonized and colonizer, now he seems to be equally attentive to how similar processes can work to
constrain freedom within the colonized population itself. The problem with essentialism thus cuts in
two directions for Fanon: it can serve to naturalize relations of dominance not only between but also
within social groups.
Yet by grounding his analysis in the concrete operation of specific power relations Fanon is again
able to maintain a critical stance toward negritude without denying its significance outright. This is
made clear over the course of West Indians and Africans as Fanon begins to emphasize the social
function played by negritude in mobilizing Antillean blacks against French racism in Martinique.
Until this point, Fanons endorsement of negritude rested largely on the transformative effects he saw
the practice of self-affirmation having on the psychology of individuals, using his own experience in
Black Skin, White Masks as an example. This stance undergoes a slight revision in West Indians and
Africans as Fanon begins to historicize the movements influence at the societal level. This is
clearest in Fanons discussion of Csaire, whose work he claims served to radicalize the local black
population in ways that would have been unheard of before the popularization of his poetry and
political activism. Indeed, it was Csaires scandalous assertion that being black was a good
thing, that it was not only beautiful but also a source of truth that provided the black community
with a counterdiscourse to mobilize around and deploy in their efforts to collectively combat the
heightened racism that came to plague Martinique as thousands of French sailors descended on the
island during the Second World War.78 Without Csaire this would have been difficult, writes
Fanon, for prior to this period the West Indian identified himself with the white man, adopted a
white mans attitude, was a white man.79 This came to a grinding halt in 1939, however, for the
colonized were now forced into a situation where they had to defend themselves against the
derogatory images of blacks hurled at them by the stationed French troops. Csaire provided the
discursive ammunition used in this defense, and as a result, a new generation came into being.80
Blackness was no longer considered an irrelevant category of identification (as blacks had convinced

themselves it was before the influx of French sailors), nor was it seen as a stain;81 it was now a
source of strength, an emergent consciousness, and a foundation for collective action.
Fanon also explores the social significance of negritude in Racism and Culture.82 Written with
the Algerian context in mind, this groundbreaking essay traces the historical evolution of racism as a
systematized form of oppression oriented around crude assumptions of biological inferiority to a
more subtle form grounded on notions of cultural inferiority. What Fanon here calls the emergence of
cultural racism anticipates what contemporary critical race scholars have termed the
culturalization of racism.83 Under this new guise, the object of racism shifts from those
genetically identifiable characteristics once thought to mark certain individuals or groups as inferior,
to what Fanon calls entire form[s] of existing or way[s] of life.84 In colonial situations, this
cultural variant of racism is what historically served to rationalize the host of repressive colonial
practices associated with policies of forced assimilation. The underlying rationale here is that, if the
perceived inferiority of non-European peoples does not appear to be attributable to innate
characteristics, it then follows that these groups can, in theory, be elevated to the more civilized
status of their European colonizers. In order to accomplish this, however, one has to first destroy
the primitive cultural values thought to impede the so-called development of the colonized vis-vis the more advanced settler society. According to this scheme, colonial rule was (and for some,
still is) thought to be justified insofar as it serves to facilitate the moral and cultural development of
the colonized group.85
Witnessing firsthand the destructive effects of cultural racism in the Algerian context appears to
have prompted a slight shift in the dismissive stance that Fanon adopts in his conclusion to Black
Skin, White Masks toward strategies that seek to revalue precolonial history and culture as an
ongoing feature of the decolonization process. This change is reflected in Racism and Culture and
then again in the chapter On National Culture from The Wretched of the Earth. Fanons argument in
both texts can be stated like this: because colonialism tends to solidify its gains by normalizing the
injustices it has perpetrated against the colonized population through a direct attack on the integrity of
precontact history and culture, it follows that strategies that attempt to break the stranglehold of this
subjection through practices of cultural self-affirmation can play an important role in anticolonial
struggle as long as they remain grounded and oriented toward a change in the social structure of
colonialism itself. What distinguishes Fanons previous position in Black Skin, White Masks from the
position articulated in Racism and Culture and The Wretched of the Earth, however, is that the
arguments developed in the two latter texts were based on observations Fanon made while in Algeria,
where expressions of cultural self-affirmation appeared to emerge organically among the colonized
population as a whole, as opposed to being articulated solely among the elites of negritude. This is an
important distinction to recognize because I think it alleviates to some degree Fanons previous
concern regarding the disassociation of cultural revitalization movements from questions of colonial
political economy. This is why in Racism and Culture and The Wretched of the Earth we see
Fanons most biting criticisms directed more squarely at negritude as a specific practice of cultural
self-affirmation, and less toward these types of practices as such.
However, even though Fanon is willing to assign a slightly more substantive value to practices of
cultural self-recognition in his postBlack Skin, White Masks writings, he does so without
abandoning his previous apprehensions entirely. Indeed, one of Fanons lingering concerns is that the
cultural forms and traditions exuberantly reclaimed and affirmed by the colonized no longer reflect
the dynamic systems that existed prior to the colonial encounter: rather, this culture, once living and

open to the future, [has become] closed, fixed in the colonial status.86 The problem here is that the
cultural practices that the colonized passionately cling to as a source of pride and empowerment can
easily become a cluster of antiquated attachments that divert attention away from the present and
future needs of the Indigenous population.87 In other words, what was initially empowering can
quickly become a source of pacifying, ressentiment-infected nostalgia. This problem is compounded
further in the activism of negritude elites like Senghor, whose work, Fanon claims, racializes and
abstracts the past cultural achievements of the colonized to such a degree that it bears little
resemblance to the specificity of struggles occurring at the local, national level.88 What ultimately
needs to be realized in both cases, then, whether it be in relation to the self-affirmative activities
undertaken by the colonized intellectual or by the grassroots freedom-fighter, is that the natives
hand-to-hand struggle with his culture must be geared toward the total liberation of the national
territory.89 According to Fanon, it is only under these radically transformed material conditions that a
truly national culture can emerge;90 a fighting culture that does not leave intact either the form or
substance of previous cultural practices, but instead strives toward the construction of a totally new
set of social, cultural and economic relations.91 Insofar as the plunge into the chasm of the past
provides a possible means of achieving this ultimate end,92 then Fanon is more willing than he was in
his conclusion to Black Skin, White Masks to attribute a transformative function to cultural selfaffirmation in the fight for freedom against colonial domination.

In her recent book on Anishinaabe political and cultural resurgence, Dancing on Our Turtles Back,
Leanne Simpson suggests that while non-Indigenous critical theoretical frameworks still have much to
offer our analyses of contemporary settler-colonialism, they are fundamentally limited in their ability
to provide insight into what a culturally grounded alternative to colonialism might look like for
Indigenous nations. While theoretically, we have debated whether Audre Lourdes the masters
tools can dismantle the masters house, writes Simpson, I am interested in a different question.
She continues: I am not so concerned with how we dismantle the masters house, that is, which set of
theories we use to critique colonialism; but I am very concerned with how we (re)build our own
house, or our own houses.93 By now it should be clear that although Fanon saw the revaluation of an
Indigenous past as an important means of temporarily breaking the colonized free from the
interpellative stranglehold of colonial misrecognition, he was less willing to explore the role that
critically revitalized traditions might play in the (re)construction of decolonized Indigenous nations.
Subsequently, his work tends to treat the cultural in a manner inappropriately similar to how
Marxists treat the category of class: as a transitional form of identification that subaltern groups
must struggle to overcome as soon as they become conscious of its existence as a distinct category of
identification. In my concluding chapter I explore a different way of understanding the significance of
Indigenous cultural politics in our struggles for national liberationa resurgent approach to
Indigenous decolonization that builds on the value and insights of our past in our efforts to secure a
noncolonial present and future.

Lessons from Idle No More: The Future of Indigenous Activism

Personal and collective transformation is not instrumental to the surging against state power, it is the very means of
our struggle.
Taiaiake Alfred, Wasse

In writing this book I set out to problematize the increasingly commonplace assumption that the
colonial relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state can be reconciled via a
liberal politics of recognition. I characterized the politics of recognition as a recognition-based
approach to reconciling Indigenous peoples assertions of nationhood with settler-state sovereignty
via the accommodation of Indigenous identity-related claims through the negotiation of settlements
over issues such as land, economic development, and self-government. I argued that this orientation to
the reconciliation of Indigenous nationhood with state sovereignty is still colonial insofar as it
remains structurally committed to the dispossession of Indigenous peoples of our lands and selfdetermining authority.
My conceptualization of settler-colonialism as a structure of domination predicated on the
dispossession of Indigenous peoples lands and political authority drew significantly from two
theoretical resources: Karl Marxs writings on the primitive accumulation of capital and Frantz
Fanons anticolonial critique of Hegels master/slave parable when applied to colonial situations.
With respect to Marx, I argued that three issues must be addressed within his work to make his
writings on colonialism relevant for analyzing the relationship between Indigenous peoples and
liberal settler polities like Canada. First, I argued that Marxs thesis on primitive accumulation must
be stripped of its rigidly temporal character; that is, rather than positing primitive accumulation as
some historically situated, inaugural set of events that set the stage for the development of the
capitalist mode of production through colonial expansion, we should see it as an ongoing practice of
dispossession that never ceases to structure capitalist and colonial social relations in the present.
Settler-colonialism is territorially acquisitive in perpetuity. Second, I argued that Marxs theory of
primitive accumulation must be stripped of its early normative developmentalist character. While it
is correct to view primitive accumulation as the condition of possibility for the development and
ongoing reproduction of the capitalist mode of production, it is incorrect to view it as a necessary
condition for developing the forms of critical consciousness and associated modes of life that ought to
inform the construction of alternatives to capitalism in settler-colonial contexts. I also suggested that
Marx himself came to acknowledge the problematic character of this early formulation of his thesis
and worked to correct it in the last decade of his life. And finally, I argued that the forms of colonial
power associated with primitive accumulation need not be understood as strictly coercive,
repressive, or explicitly violent in nature; rather, the practices of dispossession central to the
maintenance of settler-colonialism in liberal democratic contexts like Canada rely as much on the
productive character of colonial power as it does on the coercive authority of the settler state. Seen
from this angle, settler-colonialism should not be seen as deriving its reproductive force solely from
its strictly repressive or violent features, but rather from its ability to produce forms of life that make

settler-colonialisms constitutive hierarchies seem natural.

To tease out the productive character of settler-colonial power I turned to the theoretical
contribution of Frantz Fanon. I used Fanons work because it implicates the role played by
recognition in the reproduction of settler-colonial forms of rule in a manner that still resonates today.
More specifically, I used Fanons critical engagement with the dialectic of recognition theorized in
Hegels master/slave narrative to identify the neocolonial function played by contemporary
recognition politics in maintaining the settler-colonial relationship between Indigenous nations and
the Canadian state. I drew three insights from Fanon in particular. First, I claimed that Fanons
critique of Hegels theory of recognition convincingly unpacks the ways in which delegated
exchanges of political recognition from the colonizer to the colonized usually ends up being
structurally determined by and in the interests of the colonizer. Second, Fanon also identifies the
subtle ways in which colonized populations often come to develop what he called psycho-affective
attachments to these circumscribed, master-sanctioned forms of delegated recognition. For Fanon,
these psycho-affective or ideological attachments create an impression of naturalness to the
colonial condition, which he referred to as internalization or internalized colonialism. Third,
Fanon showed how colonized populations, despite the totalizing power of colonialism, are often able
to turn these internalized forms of colonial recognition into expressions of Indigenous selfempowerment through the reclamation and revitalization of precolonial social relations and cultural
traditions. In the end, however, Fanon viewed these practices of Indigenous cultural selfempowerment, or self-recognition, as insufficient for decolonization: they constitute a means but
not an end.
In this chapter I conclude my analysis by turning our attention to the contributions that Indigenous
scholars and activists, particularly but not necessarily limited to those working within the emergent
theory and practice of Indigenous resurgence, have added to our understanding of the entanglement of
contemporary recognition politics with the operation of settler-colonial power.1 I feel that it is
important to conclude my study in this way because Indigenous contributions to anticolonial thought
and practice have been generally underappreciated for their transformative value and insights. Indeed,
as we saw in the previous chapter, even Fanon viewed the decolonial potential of Indigenous cultural
politics as fundamentally undercut by its ressentiment-directed orientation toward the past. We
should not therefore be content to delve into the peoples past to find concrete examples to counter
colonialisms endeavour to distort or depreciate, writes Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth.2
Colonialism will never be put to shame by exhibiting unknown cultural treasures under its nose.3 I
suggest that it is on this point that we reach a limit to Fanons anticolonial analysis, especially when
applied to the settler-colonial dynamics that inform our current circumstances. Although Fanon
eschews an evolutionary anthropological theory of historical development in which societies are
viewed as developing along a linear path from primitive to civilized, he remains wedded to a
dialectical conception of social transformation that privileges the new over the old. When this
dialectic is applied to colonial situations, the result, I claim, is a conceptualization of culture that
mimics how Marxists understand class: as a transitional category of identification that colonized
peoples must struggle to transcend as soon as they become conscious of its existence as a form of
identification. This view simply does not provide much insight into either what motivates Indigenous
resistance to settler colonization or into the cultural foundations upon which Indigenous noncolonial
alternatives might be constructed.
The concluding thoughts I offer in this chapter are organized into three sections. In the first one, I

examine the work of two theorists of Indigenous resurgence, Taiaiake Alfred and Leanne
Betasamosake Simpson, and parse out their significant contributions to our understanding of the
dynamics that shape settler-colonialism and Indigenous decolonization in Canada. In the second
section, I use the emergent Idle No More movement as a backdrop against which to explore what a
resurgent decolonial politics might look like in practice. And finally, I conclude with Five Theses on
Indigenous Resurgence and Decolonization, in light of what we have learned throughout the
preceding chapters.

Indigenous Resurgence
To my mind, the most explicit theorization of the Indigenous resurgence paradigm can be found in the
writings of two Indigenous scholar/activists working here in Canada: Mohawk political scientist
Taiaiake Alfred and Anishinaabe feminist Leanne Simpson.4 Like Fanons quasi-Nietzschean
invocation of self-affirmation in Black Skin, White Masks, both Alfred and Simpson start from a
position that calls on Indigenous people and communities to turn away from the assimilative
reformism of the liberal recognition approach and to instead build our national liberation efforts on
the revitalization of traditional political values and practices.5 We [must] choose to turn away
from the legacies of colonialism, writes Alfred in Wasse, and take on the challenge of creating a
new reality for ourselves and for our people.6 For Simpson, decolonization requires that Indigenous
communities reorient our collective labor from attempts to transform the colonial outside into a
flourishment of the Indigenous inside. In other words, we need to decolonize on our own terms,
without the sanction, permission or engagement of the state, western theory or the opinions of
Unlike Fanons notion of self-affirmation, however, the resurgence paradigm defended by Alfred
and Simpson does not require us to dialectically transcend Indigenous practices of the past once the
affirmation of these practices has served to reestablish us as historical protagonists in the present. For
Alfred, the struggle to regenerate traditional values is assigned a far more substantive value: We
have a responsibility to recover, understand, and preserve these values, not only because they
represent a unique contribution to the history of ideas, but because renewal of respect for traditional
values is the only lasting solution to the political, economic, and social problems that beseech our
people.8 The same goes for Simpsons work: Building diverse, nation-culture-based resurgences
means significantly reinvesting in our own ways of being: regenerating our political and intellectual
traditions; articulating and living our legal traditions; language learning; creating and using our
artistic and performance based traditions. [Decolonization] requires us to reclaim the very best
practices of our traditional cultures, knowledge systems and lifeways in the dynamic, fluid,
compassionate, respectful context in which they were originally generated.9 In Peace, Power,
Righteousness, Alfred refers to these ethico-political practices of Indigenous resurgence as a form of
self-conscious traditionalismthat is, a self-reflective program of culturally grounded
desubjectification that aims to undercut the interplay between subjectivity and structural domination
that help maintain settler-colonial relationships in contexts absent pure force.10
For Alfred, colonial recognition politics serves the imperatives of capitalist accumulation by
appearing to address its colonial history through symbolic acts of redress while in actuality further
entrenching in law and practice the real bases of its control.11 As we have seen, over the last forty
years Canada has recognized a host of rights specific to Aboriginal communities, including most

importantly to land and self-government. Canada has always used this recognition, however, as
evidence of its ultimately just relationship with Indigenous communities, even though this recognition
continues to be structured with colonial power interests in mind. Simpson levels a similar charge
against the more recent turn to reconciliation in Indigenous politics. As reconciliation has become
institutionalized, writes Simpson, I worry our participation will benefit the state in an asymmetrical
fashion.12 In Simpsons view, the states approach to reconciliation serves to neutralize the
legitimacy of Indigenous justice claims by offering statements of regret and apology for harms
narrowly conceived of as occurring in the past, thus off-loading Canadas responsibility to address
structural injustices that continue to inform our settler-colonial present. In doing so the state can claim
that the historical wrong has been righted and further transformation is not needed.13 In the end,
the optics created by these grand gestures of recognition and reconciliation suggests to the dominant
society that we no longer have a legitimate ground to stand on in expressing our grievances. Instead,
Indigenous people appear unappreciative, angry, and resentful, as we saw in chapter 4.
The optics of recognition and reconciliation can also have a colonial impact on Indigenous
subjects. For both Alfred and Simpson, settler-colonial rule is a form of governmentality: a
relatively diffuse set of governing relations that operate through a circumscribed mode of recognition
that structurally ensures continued access to Indigenous peoples lands and resources by producing
neocolonial subjectivities that coopt Indigenous people into becoming instruments of their own
dispossession. According to this view, contemporary colonialism works through rather than entirely
against freedom: In the new relationship, writes Alfred, the rusty cage [of colonialism] may be
broken, but a new chain has been strung around the indigenous neck; it offers more room to move, but
it still ties our people to white men pulling on the strong end.14 Alfreds concern here is that many
Indigenous people, particularly those leaders and community organizers heavily invested in the
colonial politics of recognition, have come to associate this externally imposed field of maneuver
with freedom or decolonization itself.
The biopolitics of settler-colonial recognition can also problematically inform our efforts at
Indigenous resurgence. For both authors, recognizing this demands that we remain cognizant of the
pitfalls associated with retreating into an uncritical essentialism in our practices of cultural
revitalization. As Alfred states in Peace, Power, Righteousness: Working within a traditional
framework, we must acknowledge the fact that traditions change, and that any particular notion that
constitutes tradition will be contested.15 A similar insistence on cultural dynamism informs
Simpsons work. Resurgence does not literally mean returning to the past, insists Simpson, but
rather re-creating the cultural and political flourishment of the past to support the well being of our
contemporary citizens.16 For Simpson this requires that we reclaim the fluidity of our traditions, not
the rigidity of colonialism.17 Acknowledging cultures malleability, however, does not mean that we
cannot still identify certain beliefs, values and principles that form the persistent core of a
communitys culture, writes Alfred. It is this traditional framework that we must use as the basis on
which to build a better society. The resurgence Alfred and Simpson advocate is thus a critical one:
an intellectual, social, political, and artistic movement geared toward the self-reflective revitalization
of those values, principles and other cultural elements that are best suited to the larger contemporary
political and economic reality.18 Resurgence, in this view, draws critically on the past with an eye to
radically transform the colonial power relations that have come to dominate our present.
In Wasse Alfred expands on the foundational critique he develops in Peace, Power,
Righteousness in a way that provides more depth to our understanding of both the complexity of

power relations that give shape to settler-colonialism and the types of practices we might engage in to
transform these relations. To my mind, one of the more important layers of complexity Alfred adds in
Wasse has to do with the placement of gender in his theoretical framework, which was largely
absent in previous work. I would suggest that there are two reasons that inform the inclusion of a
gendered component to Alfreds more recent position. First, and most importantly, the crucial
interventions of Indigenous feminist scholarship and activism over the years have made it impossible
for any credible scholar working within the field to ignore the centrality of sexism to the colonial
aims of land dispossession and sovereignty usurpation. This crucial area of work has also made it
impossible to credibly ignore the impact that colonial patriarchy continues to have on our national
liberation efforts. Second, I also think that gender figures its way into Alfreds more recent work
because of the explicit collapse of any ends/means distinction in his notion of resurgence. One of the
central problems with Indigenous politics, insists Alfred, is that there is no consistency of means
and ends in the way that we are struggling to empower ourselves.19 For Alfred, we must remain
cognizant of the subtle ways our methods can come to discursively shape the ends we seek to attain
through our decolonization strategies.20 This is why Alfred is quick to insist that the struggles of
Indigenous peoples today cannot hold onto a concept of struggle that is gendered in the way it once
was and that is located in an obsolete view of mens and womens roles. Instead, Indigenous
struggles must be rethought and recast from the solely masculine view of the old traditional ways to
a new concept of the warrior that is freed from colonial gender constructions.21
Critically, Simpson extends this gendered analysis to interrogate the subtle infiltration of
heteropatriarchal norms in our practices of national liberation and resurgence. Drawing off the
insights of recent scholars working at the intersection of queer theory and Indigenous studies, in
particular the writings of Chris Finely and Andrea Smith,22 Simpson challenges the perpetuation of
heteropatriarchy within our movements on several fronts, including [through the construction of]
rigid (colonial) gender roles, pressuring women to wear certain articles of clothing to ceremonies,
the exclusion of LGBQ2 individuals from communities and ceremonies, the dominance of malecentred narratives regarding Indigenous experience, the lack of recognition for women and LGBQ2s
voices, experiences, contributions and leadership, and narrow interpretations of tradition used to
control the contributions of women in ceremony, politics and leadership.23 Although I am speculating
here, I suspect that Simpsons important call to queer resurgence represents her own response to
concerns raised by Mtis feminist Emma LaRoque regarding the heteronormative conception of
Indigenous womanhood that underwrites certain aspects of recent Indigenous feminist reclamation
projects. Of particular concern to LaRoque is the manner in which Cree feminist Kim Anderson
appears to foreground her particular view of Indigenous motherhood as central to Aboriginal
womens epistemology in general. Although LaRoque recognizes that Anderson takes great pains
to include as many nonmothers as possible in her analysis, including extended family members and
other Indigenous women caregivers who do not have children, Andersons normative privileging of
maternalization nevertheless ends up being totalizing and exclusionary. LaRoques point here is
not to dismiss the emancipatory potential of Andersons invocation of a maternal-based ethical
practice; rather, she is simply highlighting the way in which a specific practice of cultural
empowerment can itself discursively rule out or constrain other equally legitimate and potentially
empowering ways of being Indigenous in the present.24 I think that Simpsons argument in Queering
Resurgence is meant to clarify the decolonial role she attributes to her own experience of
motherhood and childrearing in Dancing on Our Turtles Back.25 Perpetuating these heteronormative

exclusions cannot be part of our nation-building work, states Simpson unequivocally. This is not
Alfreds call for a consistency between the means and ends of decolonization implicates more than
oppressive gender constructions. It also has ramifications in the realm of political economy and
governance. In relation to political economy, for example, Alfreds resurgent approach to
decolonization demands that we challenge the commonsense idea that one can construct an equitable
relationship with non-Indigenous peoples and a sustainable relationship with the land by participating
more intensely in a capitalist economy that is environmentally unsustainable and founded, at its core,
on racial, gender, and class exploitation and inequalities.27 The same can be said regarding our
attempts to negotiate a relation of nondomination with a structure of domination like the colonial
nation-state. For Alfred, the best aspects of traditional Indigenous governing practices stand in sharp
contrast to the dominant understanding of the state: there is no absolute authority, no coercive
enforcement of decisions, no hierarchy and no separate ruling entity.28 In our thirty-year effort to
achieve recognition of a right to self-government, we have come to accept the liberal democratic state
as a legitimate, if not normative, mode of political organization. In doing so, Alfred claims that we
have allowed indigenous political goals to be framed and evaluated according to a statist
pattern.29 In light of the productive capacity of the colonial state to call forth modes of life that mimic
its constitutive power features, Alfreds concern is that our negotiations for self-government will end
up replicating the worst manifestations of the states power within the intensified context of our own
communities and governance structures. We also saw in chapter 3 how a similar concern came to
animate the late Mohawk legal theorist Patricia Montures critique of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms as an appropriate tool in the gender justice struggles of Indigenous women. For
Monture, when Native women seek legal protection from the patriarchal colonial state as a means of
ameliorating the gendered violence that the state has disciplined into the minds and bodies of our
citizens through the Indian Act, they risk reifying the subjective and structural relations required for
their continued domination both as Indigenous women and as members of Indigenous nations.30 To my
mind, Montures insight here adds a crucial gender dynamic to Alfreds claims that structural change
negotiated in a colonial cultural context will only achieve the further entrenchment of the social and
political foundations of injustice, leading to reforms that are mere modifications to the pre-existing
structures of domination.31 By contrast, the resurgent approach to recognition advocated here
explicitly eschews the instrumental rationality central to the liberal politics of recognition and instead
demands that we enact or practice our political commitments to Indigenous national and womens
liberation in the cultural form and content of our struggle itself. Indigenous resurgence is at its core a
prefigurative politicsthe methods of decolonization prefigure its aims.

Idle No More: A History

Below I want to turn our attention to the Idle No More movement that burst onto the Canadian
political scene in the late fall/early winter of 2012/13. To my mind, Idle No More offers a productive
case study against which to explore what a resurgent Indigenous politics might look like on the
ground. Before I turn to this analysis, however, providing a bit of context to the movement is required.
On December 14, 2012, the Canadian senate passed the Conservative federal governments
controversial omnibus Bill C-45. Bill C-45, also known as the Jobs and Growth Act, is a fourhundred-plus-page budget implementation bill that contains comprehensive changes to numerous

pieces of federal legislation, including, but not limited to, the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Water Act.32 From the perspective of
many Indigenous people and communities, the changes contained in Bill C-45 threaten to erode
Aboriginal land and treaty rights insofar as they reduce the amount of resource development projects
that require environmental assessment; they change the regulations that govern on-reserve leasing in a
way that will make it easier for special interests to access First Nation reserve lands for the purposes
of economic development and settlement; and they radically curtail environmental protections for
lakes and rivers.33
Indigenous opposition to Bill C-45 began in the fall of 2012 as a grassroots education campaign
initiated by four women from the prairiesJessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and
Nina Wilsonunder the mantra Idle No More. The campaigns original aim was to provide
information to Canadians about the impending impacts of Bill C-45 on Aboriginal rights and
environmental protections before the legislation was passed by the Canadian senate. Then, on
December 4, Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Cree Nation announced that she would begin
a hunger strike on December 11 to bring attention to the deplorable housing conditions on her reserve
in northern Ontario, to raise awareness about the impacts of Bill C-45, and to demonstrate her support
for the emerging Idle No More movement. During her hunger strike Chief Spence consumed only
liquidsa combination of lemon water, medicinal teas, and fish brothwhich she claimed she
would continue to do until she secured a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and GovernorGeneral David Johnson to discuss treaty rights. Her hunger strike took place in a teepee on Victoria
Island, near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and lasted from December 11 until January 24, 2013.
By the second week in December the movement had exploded on social media under the Twitter
hash tag #IdleNoMore (or #INM for short), with the first national day of action called for
December 10. Protests erupted in cities across the country. At this point, the tactics favored by Idle
No More participants involved a combination of flash mob round-dancing and drumming in public
spaces like shopping malls, street intersections, and legislature grounds, coupled with an ongoing
public education campaign organized through community-led conferences, teach-ins, and public
panels. On December 21 an Idle No More protest involving thousands of Indigenous people and their
supporters descended on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. During roughly the same time, Idle No More
tactics began to diversify to include the use of blockades and temporary train and traffic stoppages,
the most publicized of which involved a two-week railway blockade established in late December by
the Aamjiwnaag First Nation near Sarnia, Ontario.34
By late December it was clear the something truly significant was underway with the Idle No More
movement. Indeed, Canada had not seen such a sustained, united, and coordinated nationwide
mobilization of Indigenous nations against a legislative assault on our rights since the proposed White
Paper of 1969. What had begun in the fall of 2012 as an education campaign designed to inform
Canadians about a particularly repugnant and undemocratic piece of legislation had erupted by midJanuary 2013 into a full-blown defense of Indigenous land and sovereignty. By early January the
momentum generated by Idle No More, in combination with the media attention paid to Chief
Spences hunger strike, had created such a national stir that the Prime Ministers Office was forced to
respond by calling a January 11 meeting with the Assembly of First Nations, although the prime
minister never explicitly stated that his decision to call the meeting was a result of pressure mounted
by the escalating protests.35
At the height of the protest activities leading into the January 11 gathering, political analyses of the

movement ranged from the entirely asinine to coverage that was both engaged and critically astute.
Exemplifying the former, right-wing ideologue Christie Blatchford referred to Chief Spences
peaceful hunger strike as an act of intimidation, if not terrorism: She is, after all, holding the state
hostage to vaguely articulated demands.36 The claim that Idle No Mores demands were somehow
abstruse was (and, at the time of writing this chapter in March 2013, continues to be) popular among
mainstream media critics. In an especially laughable piece written for the National Post in January
2013, Kelly McParland speculated that Idle No Mores lack of focus and clarity was a result of the
movement having been seized by the forces of Occupy Wall Street. What are the aims of The
Cause? asks McParland condescendingly. No one is really quite sure: just as with Occupy, the Idle
forces are disparate and leaderless.37 For others, however, it is precisely the diversity and bottomup character of the movement that make decolonization movements like Idle No More so potentially
transformative. Idle No More is not led by any elected politician, national chief or paid executive
director, explains Mikmaq legal scholar Pamela Palmater. It is a movement originally led by
indigenous women and has been joined by grassroots First Nations leaders, Canadians, and now the
world.38 Similarly, for Leanne Simpson, the strength of the movement lies in the fact that it is not led
from above, but rather has hundreds of eloquent spokespeople, seasoned organizers, writers,
thinkers and artists acting on their own ideas in anyway and every way possible. This is the beauty of
our movement.39
As with any grassroots political movement, the diversity at the heart of Idle No More resulted in
debates and disagreements over what types of strategies and tactics to use in our efforts to forge
meaningful change. These debates intensified in the days leading up to the January 11 meeting. On the
one side, there was the perspective among many Native people working within mainstream
Aboriginal organizations that saw the January 11 meeting as an important space to get Aboriginal
issues and concerns on the federal governments political agenda. On the other side of the debate,
however, were the voices emanating up from the communities (with some chiefs following suit), that
saw the turn to high-level political negotiations as yet another attempt by the state and Aboriginal
organizations, in particular the Assembly of First Nations, to coopt the transformative potential of the
movement by redirecting it in a more moderate and reformist direction.40 Longtime Secwepemc
activist and leader Arthur Manuel gets to the core of the debate when he writes that one thing is
clear: that certain Indigenous leaders only know how to meet with government and not fight with
government. In situations like Friday [January 11] they say that it is important to engage with
government when they open the door to discussion. The real problem is that you get sucked into
basically supporting the governments position unless you walk out. In this case it is just another
process and not change in policy that the AFN left the room with.41 There is much historical
evidence to support Manuels concern. If we take a step back and look at the history that led to our
present juncture, especially since the late 1960s, the state has always responded to increased levels
of Indigenous political assertiveness and militancy by attempting to contain these outbursts through
largely symbolic gestures of political inclusion and recognition. Indeed, as we saw in chapter 4, this
was precisely the manner in which the federal government attempted to address the fallout of the
decade-long escalation of First Nations militancy that culminated in the Meech Lake Accord and the
conflict at Kanesatake in 1990. And if we push our view back a bit further yet, we see a similar
strategy used by the federal government to quell the upsurge of struggle that eventually defeated the
White Paper of 1969. It was at this time that the entire policy orientation of Canadas approach to
solving the Indian problem began to shift from willfully ignoring Aboriginal peoples rights to

recognizing them in the manageable form of land claims and eventually self-government agreements. I
suggest that Idle No More is an indication of the ultimate failure of this approach to reconciliation.
After forty years the subtle lure of Canadas vacuous gestures of accommodation have begun to lose
their political sway.
All of this is to say that the January 11 meeting did not transpire without major controversy. One of
the most significant points of contention involved the refusal of Prime Minister Harper to include the
participation of Governor-General David Johnson in the meeting, thwarting the demand of Chief
Spence and a growing number of First Nations leaders and Idle No More supporters. As the Crowns
official representative in Canada, the governor-generals roles and responsibilities are today largely
symbolic in nature. However, from the perspective of treaty First Nations, securing a meeting with the
governor-general would have emphasized the nation-to-nation character of the relationship between
First Nations and the Crown. This is especially important given the manner in which Canada has
failed to live up to the spirit and intent of these historic agreements. Prime Minister Harpers refusal
to concede to Chief Spences demand on this point signified a refusal by Canada to take the treaty
relationship seriously more generally, which was the central point of demanding a meeting with the
governor-generals participation to begin with. Combined with the previously mentioned concern of
cooptation, the failure to invite the governor-general resulted in a boycott of the meeting by a number
of prominent leaders within the Assembly of First Nations, including the Assembly of Manitoba
Chiefs, which represents sixty-four First Nations in the province of Manitoba.42 Chief Spence also
declined to attend the meeting as well as break with her hunger strike.
Native anger and frustration in the immediate lead-up to the January 11 gathering resulted in a call
among some Idle No More supporters for an escalation in land-based direct action, including by
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs: The Idle No More movement has
the people, warned Nepinak at a January 10 press conference, it has the people and the numbers
that can bring the Canadian economy to its knees. . . . We have the warriors that are standing up now
that are willing to go that far.43 Apparently many activists shared Chief Nepinaks sentiment, and on
January 16 another national day of action was called, this time focusing on more assertive forms of
Indigenous protest. Actions including rallies, railway blockades, and traffic stoppages swept across
the country, including railway barricades erected in Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia;
highway and bridge stoppages in British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Alberta; as well as
the now regular display of marches, flash-mob round-dances, drumming, and prayer circles.44
By the last week in January media speculation was beginning to circulate about the possibility of
Chief Spence ending her hunger strike after securing a Declaration of Commitment by the executive
committee of the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Womens Association of Canada, and the
caucuses of two of Canadas federal opposition parties, the New Democrats and the Liberals. On
January 23 it was confirmed that Chief Spence (along with Raymond Robinson of Cross Lake,
Manitoba, who was also on a hunger strike) would be ending her strike the following day. The
Declaration of Commitment that ended the two hunger strikes was the culmination of a weeks
worth of negotiations led by Native leader Alvin Fiddler and interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae.
Among the thirteen points of the declaration is a call for a national inquiry into the hundreds of
cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women that have gone unsolved in Canada; improving
Aboriginal education and housing; fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples; reform of the federal governments comprehensive lands claims policy; the
establishment of an implementation framework for First Nations treaty rights; and, of course, a

comprehensive review of Bill C-45, undertaken with meaningful consultation with Aboriginal
As I was a close observer of the movement in general and a regular participant in the Idle No More
events and teach-ins in the Vancouver area in particular, by late January it had become clear to me
that a relative decline in Idle No Mores more overt and thus publically conspicuous forms of protest
was underway. Somewhat predictably, this was interpreted by many outlets of Canadas corporate
media as a decline in the movement itself. In newspeak, Idle No More had lost its legs. At that time,
I sensed that a moment of pause and critical reflection was underway, yes, but this should not be
interpreted as a deterioration of the movements spirit and resolve. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
has stated that, despite the outcry of informed concerns emanating from Indigenous communities and
their allies through spring 2013, Bill C-45 is not up for negotiation. Business, in other words, will
proceed as usual. As long as the land remains in jeopardy, supporters of movements like Idle No
More will continue the struggle. Were in this for the long haul, explains Pamela Palmater. It was
never meant to be a flashy one month, then go away. This is something thats years in the making. . . .
Youll see it take different forms at different times, but its not going away anytime soon.46 Indeed,
the recent escalation and increased public visibility of Indigenous anti-fracking protests in places like
Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, along with the ongoing antioil sands activism led by Native
communities in northern Alberta, and the unrelenting antipipeline campaigns mounted by First Nations
communities across British Columbia, are a clear demonstration of Indigenous peoples continued
resolve to defend their land and sovereignty from further encroachments by state and capital.

Five Theses on Indigenous Resurgence and Decolonization

As a conclusion to this study I want to critically reflect on the Idle No More movement in light of
what we have discussed up to this point. With this as my aim, I will organize my thoughts around five
theses on Indigenous resurgence. These theses are not meant to be overly prescriptive or conclusive.
Instead I propose them with the aim of both consolidating and contributing to the constructive debates
and critical conversations that have already animated the movement to date. They also indicate areas
where future research is required.
Thesis 1: On the Necessity of Direct Action
I am going to structure my comments on direct action around a discursive restraint that has
increasingly been placed on movements like Idle No More (both from within and from without) since
the debates that emerged leading into the January 11 meeting with Prime Minister Harper and the
January 16 national day of action. This constraint involves the type of tactics that are being
represented as morally legitimate in our efforts to defend our land and rights as Indigenous peoples,
on the one hand, and those that are increasingly being presented as either morally illegitimate or at
least politically self-defeating because of their disruptive, extralegal, and therefore potentially
alienating character, on the other hand.
With respect to those approaches deemed legitimate in defending our rights, emphasis is usually
placed on formal negotiationsusually carried out between official Aboriginal leadership and
representatives of the stateand if need be coupled with largely symbolic acts of peaceful,
nondisruptive protest that abide by Canadas rule of law. Those approaches that are increasingly
deemed illegitimate include, but are not limited to, forms of direct action that seek to influence

power through less mediated and sometimes more disruptive and confrontational measures. In the
context of Indigenous peoples struggles, the forms of direct action often taken to be problematic
include activities like temporarily blocking access to Indigenous territories with the aim of impeding
the exploitation of Indigenous peoples land and resources, or in rarer cases still, the more-or-less
permanent reoccupation of a portion of Native land through the establishment of a reclamation site
which also serves to disrupt, if not entirely block, access to Indigenous peoples territories by state
and capital for sustained periods of time. Even though these actions may be oriented toward gaining
some solid commitment by the state to curtail its colonial activities, I think that they still ought to be
considered direct action for three reasons: first, the practices are directly undertaken by the
subjects of colonial oppression themselves and seek to produce an immediate power effect; second,
they are undertaken in a way that indicates a loosening of internalized colonialism, which is itself a
precondition for any meaningful change; and third, they are prefigurative in the sense that they build
the skills and social relationships (including those with the land) that are required within and among
Indigenous communities to construct alternatives to the colonial relationship in the long run.
Regardless of their diversity and specificity, however, most of these actions tend to get branded in the
media as the typical Native blockade. Militant, threatening, disruptive, and violent.
The following positions are typical of those that emerged in the wake of the January 11 meeting
regarding use of these direct action tactics to defend Indigenous peoples land and interests. The first
position is drawn from a statement made by the former national chief of the Assembly of First
Nations, Ovide Mercredi, at an Aboriginal leadership gathering in the spring of 2013. In his speech
Mercredi boldly stated that it is only through talk, not through blockades that [real] progress will be
made.47 The assumption here, of course, is that the most productive means to forge lasting change in
the lives of Indigenous people and communities is through the formal channels of negotiation. The
second example is slightly more predictable. It is drawn from a statement made by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper: People have the right in our country to demonstrate and express their points of view
peacefully as long as they obey the law, but I think the Canadian population expects everyone will
obey the law in holding such protests.48
There are three arguments that typically get used when critics rail against the use of more assertive
forms of Indigenous protest actions. The first is the one clearly articulated by Mecredi in the
statement I just quoted: negotiations are, objectively speaking, simply more effective in securing the
rights and advancing the interests of Indigenous communities. This is simply false. Historically, I
would venture to suggest that all negotiations over the scope and content of Aboriginal peoples rights
in the last forty years have piggybacked off the assertive direct actionsincluding the escalated use
of blockadesspearheaded by Indigenous women and other grassroots elements of our communities.
For example, there would likely have been no negotiations over Aboriginal rights and title in British
Columbia through the current land claims process (as problematic as it is) if it were not for the
ongoing commitment of Indigenous activists willing to put their bodies on the line in defense of their
lands and communities. There would have likely been no Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
without the land-based direct actions of the Innu in Labrador, the Lubicon Cree in Alberta, the
Algonquin of Barrier Lake, the Mohawks of Kanesatake and Kahnawake, the Haida of Haida Gwaii,
the Anishanaabe of Temagami, and the countless other Indigenous communities across Canada that
have put themselves directly in harms way in the defense of their lands and distinct ways of life.
Likewise, there would have likely been no provincial inquiry (there has yet to be a national one) into
the shameful number of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Vancouver and across the

province if it were not for the thousands of Native women and their allies who have formed lasting
networks of mutual care and support and taken to the streets every year on February 14 for more than
two decades to ensure that state-sanctioned sexual violence against Indigenous women ends here and
now. All of this is to say that if there has been any progress in securing our rights to land and life
including through the largely male-dominated world of formal negotiationsthis progress is owed to
the courageous activists practicing their obligations to the land and to each other in these diverse
networks and communities of struggle.
The second argument that gets used to denounce or criticize more disruptive forms of Indigenous
direct action involve these actions supposedly self-defeating or alienating character.49 The idea
this time is that insofar as these tactics disrupt the lives of perhaps well-intentioned but equally
uninformed non-Indigenous people, First Nations will increasingly find themselves alienated and our
causes unsupported by average, working-class Canadians. I have two brief points to make here.
First, I think that getting this reaction from the dominant society is unavoidable. Indigenous people
have within their sights, now more than ever, a restructuring of the fundamental relationship between
Indigenous nations and Canada. For more than two centuries the manifestations of this relationship
have run roughshod over the rights of Indigenous peoples, which has resulted in a massive stockpiling
of power and privilege by and for the dominant society. Land has been stolen, and significant amounts
of it must be returned. Power and authority have been unjustly appropriated, and much of it will have
to be reinstated. This will inevitably be very upsetting to some; it will be incredibly inconvenient to
others. But it is what needs to happen if we are to create a more just and sustainable life in this
country for the bulk of Indigenous communities, and for the majority of non-Indigenous people as
well. To my mind, the apparent fact that many non-Indigenous people are upset or feel alienated
by the aims of decolonization movements like Idle No More simply means that we are collectively
doing something right.
My second point is that this criticism or concern smells of a double standard. I suspect that equally
disruptive actions undertaken by various sectors of, for example, the mainstream labor movement,
including job actions ranging from the withdrawal of teaching, transit, and healthcare services to fullblown strike activity, does not often undergo the same criticism and scrutiny by progressive nonNatives that Indigenous peoples movements are subjected to. When these sectors of society
courageously defend their rights outside of the increasingly hostile confines of imposed labor
legislationactions that also tend to disproportionately disrupt the lives of ordinary Canadiansit
is crucial that we educate ourselves about the causes that inform these efforts. All Indigenous people
ask is that the same courtesy and respect be offered our communities in our struggles.
The third critique involves what we might characterize as a neo-Nietzschean concern over the
largely reactive stance that such acts of resistance take in practice. On the surface, blockades in
particular appear to be the epitome of reaction insofar as they clearly embody a resounding no but
fail to offer a more affirmative gesture or alternative built into the practice itself. The risk here is
that, in doing so, these ressentiment-laden modalities of Indigenous resistance reify the very
structures or social relationships we find so abhorrent. In Nietzsches terms, insofar as this No
becomes our creative deed we end up dependent on the hostile world we have come to define
ourselves against.50 We become dependent on external stimuli to act at all[our] action is
fundamentally reaction.51
This concern, I claim, is premised on a fundamental misunderstanding of what these forms of direct

action are all about. In his own creative engagement with Nietzsche at the end of Black Skin, White
Masks, Frantz Fanon exclaims that, yes, man is an affirmation. . . and that we shall not stop
repeating it. Yes to life. Yes to love. Yes to generosity. But man, he continues on to insist, is also
a negation. No to mans contempt. No to the indignity of man. To the exploitation of man. To the
massacre of what is most human in man: freedom.52 Forms of Indigenous resistance, such as
blockading and other explicitly disruptive oppositional practices, are indeed reactive in the ways that
some have critiqued, but they are also very important. Through these actions we physically say no
to the degradation of our communities and to exploitation of the lands upon which we depend. But
they also have ingrained within in them a resounding yes: they are the affirmative enactment of
another modality of being, a different way of relating to and with the world. In the case of blockades
like the one erected by the Anishinaabe people of Grassy Narrows in northwest Ontario, which has
been in existence since 2002, they become a way of life, another form of community. They embody
through praxis our ancestral obligations to protect the lands that are core to who we are as Indigenous
Thesis 2: Capitalism, No More!
What the recent direct actions of First Nation communities like Elsipogtog in New Brunswick
demonstrate is that Indigenous forms of economic disruption through the use of blockades are both a
negation and an affirmation.53 They are a crucial act of negation insofar as they seek to impede or
block the flow of resources currently being transported to international markets from oil and gas
fields, refineries, lumber mills, mining operations, and hydroelectric facilities located on the
dispossessed lands of Indigenous nations. These modes of direct action, in other words, seek to have
a negative impact on the economic infrastructure that is core to the colonial accumulation of capital in
settler-political economies like Canadas.54 Blocking access to this critical infrastructure has
historically been quite effective in forging short-term gains for Indigenous communities. Over the last
couple of decades, however, state and corporate powers have also become quite skilled at
recuperating the losses incurred as a result of Indigenous peoples resistance by drawing our leaders
off the land and into negotiations where the terms are always set by and in the interests of settler
What tends to get ignored by many self-styled pundits is that these actions are also an affirmative
gesture of Indigenous resurgence insofar as they embody an enactment of Indigenous law and the
obligations such laws place on Indigenous peoples to uphold the relations of reciprocity that shape
our engagements with the human and nonhuman worldthe land. The question I want to explore here,
albeit very briefly, is this: how might we begin to scale up these often localized, resurgent land-based
direct actions to produce a more general transformation in the colonial economy? Said slightly
differently, how might we move beyond a resurgent Indigenous politics that seeks to inhibit the
destructive effects of capital to one that strives to create Indigenous alternatives to it?
In her recent interview with Naomi Klein, Leanne Simpson hints at what such an alternative or
alternatives might entail for Indigenous nations: People within the Idle No More movement who are
talking about Indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive
decolonization; they are calling for a resurgence of Indigenous political thought that is land-based
and very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a
revitalization of sustainable local Indigenous economies.55

Without such a massive transformation in the political economy of contemporary settlercolonialism, any efforts to rebuild our nations will remain parasitic on capitalism, and thus on the
perpetual exploitation of our lands and labor. Consider, for example, an approach to resurgence that
would see Indigenous people begin to reconnect with their lands and land-based practices on either
an individual or small-scale collective basis. This could take the form of walking the land in an
effort to refamiliarize ourselves with the landscapes and places that give our histories, languages, and
cultures shape and content; to revitalizing and engaging in land-based harvesting practices like
hunting, fishing, and gathering, and/or cultural production activities like hide-tanning and carving, all
of which also serve to assert our sovereign presence on our territories in ways that can be profoundly
educational and empowering; to the reoccupation of sacred places for the purposes of relearning and
practicing our ceremonial activities.
A similar problem informs self-determination efforts that seek to ameliorate our poverty and
economic dependency through resource revenue sharing, more comprehensive impact benefit
agreements, and affirmative action employment strategies negotiated through the state and with
industries currently tearing up Indigenous territories. Even though the capital generated by such an
approach could, in theory, be spent subsidizing the revitalization of certain cultural traditions and
practices, in the end they would still remain dependent on a predatory economy that is entirely at odds
with the deep reciprocity that forms the cultural core of many Indigenous peoples relationships with
What forms might an Indigenous political-economic alternative to the intensification of capitalism
on and within our territories take? For some communities, reinvigorating a mix of subsistence-based
activities with more contemporary economic ventures is one alternative.56 As discussed in chapter 2,
in the 1970s the Dene Nation sought to curtail the negative environmental and cultural impacts of
capitalist extractivism by proposing to establish an economy that would apply traditional concepts of
Dene governancedecentralized, regional political structures based on participatory, consensus
decision-makingto the realm of the economy. At the time, this would have seen a revitalization of a
bush mode of production, with emphasis placed on the harvesting and manufacturing of local
renewable resources through traditional activities like hunting, fishing, and trapping, potentially
combined with and partially subsidized by other economic activities on lands communally held and
managed by the Dene Nation. Economic models discussed during the time thus included the
democratic organization of production and distribution through Indigenous cooperatives and possibly
worker-managed enterprises.57
Revisiting Indigenous political-economic alternatives such as these could pose a real threat to the
accumulation of capital on Indigenous lands in three ways. First, through mentorship and education
these economies reconnect Indigenous people to land-based practices and forms of knowledge that
emphasize radical sustainability. This form of grounded normativity is antithetical to capitalist
accumulation. Second, these economic practices offer a means of subsistence that over time can help
break our dependence on the capitalist market by cultivating self-sufficiency through the localized and
sustainable production of core foods and life materials that we distribute and consume within our
own communities on a regular basis. Third, through the application of Indigenous governance
principles to nontraditional economic activities we open up a way of engaging in contemporary
economic ventures in an Indigenous way that is better suited to foster sustainable economic decisionmaking, an equitable distribution of resources within and between Indigenous communities, Native
womens political and economic emancipation, and empowerment for Indigenous citizens and

workers who may or must pursue livelihoods in sectors of the economy outside of the bush. Why not
critically apply the most egalitarian and participatory features of our traditional governance practices
to all of our economic activities, regardless of whether they are undertaken in land-based or urban
The capacity of resurgent Indigenous economies to challenge the hegemony of settler-colonial
capitalism in the long term can only happen if certain conditions are met, however. First, all of the
colonial, racist, and patriarchal legal and political obstacles that have been used to block our access
to land need to be confronted and removed.58 Of course, capitalism continues to play a core role in
dispossessing us of our lands and self-determining authority, but it only does so with the aid of other
forms of exploitation and domination configured along racial, gender, and state lines. Dismantling all
of these oppressive structures will not be easy. It will require that we continue to assert our presence
on all of our territories, coupled with an escalation of confrontations with the forces of colonization
through the forms of direct action that are currently being undertaken by communities like Elsipogtog.
Second, we also have to acknowledge that the significant political leverage required to
simultaneously block the economic exploitation of our people and homelands while constructing
alternatives to capitalism will not be generated through our direct actions and resurgent economies
alone. Settler colonization has rendered our populations too small to affect this magnitude of change.
This reality demands that we continue to remain open to, if not actively seek out and establish,
relations of solidarity and networks of trade and mutual aid with national and transnational
communities and organizations that are also struggling against the imposed effects of globalized
capital, including other Indigenous nations and national confederacies; urban Indigenous people and
organizations; the labor, womens, GBLTQ2S (gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans, queer, and two-spirit),
and environmental movements; and, of course, those racial and ethnic communities that find
themselves subject to their own distinct forms of economic, social, and cultural marginalization. The
initially rapid and relatively widespread support expressed both nationally and internationally for the
Idle No More movement in spring 2013, and the solidarity generated around the Elsipogtog
antifracking resistance in the fall and winter of 2013, gives me hope that establishing such relations
are indeed possible.
It is time for our communities to seize the unique political opportunities of the day. In the delicate
balancing act of having to ensure that his social conservative contempt for First Nations does not
overwhelm his neoconservative love of the market, Prime Minister Harper has erred by letting the
racism and sexism of the former outstrip his belligerent commitment to the latter. This is a novice
mistake that Liberals like Jean Chrtien and Paul Martin learned how to manage decades ago. As a
result, the federal government has invigorated a struggle for Indigenous self-determination that must
challenge the relationship between settler colonization and free-market fundamentalism in ways that
refuse to be coopted by scraps of recognition, opportunistic apologies, and the cheap gift of political
and economic inclusion. For Indigenous nations to live, capitalism must die. And for capitalism to
die, we must actively participate in the construction of Indigenous alternatives to it.
Thesis 3: Dispossession and Indigenous Sovereignty in the City
In Canada, more than half of the Aboriginal population now lives in urban centers.59 The relationship
between Indigenous people and the city, however, has always been one fraught with tension.
Historically, Canadian cities were originally conceived of in the colonial imagination as explicitly

non-Native spacesas civilized spacesand urban planners and Indian policy makers went through
great efforts to expunge urban centers of Native presence.60 In 1911, for example, Prime Minister
Wilfrid Laurier announced in Parliament that where a reserve is in the vicinity of a growing town, as
is the case in several places, it becomes a source of nuisance and an impediment to progress.61 This
developmentalist rationale, which at the time conceived of Native space, particularly reserves, as
uncultivated waste lands, justified an amendment to the Indian Act a month later, which stipulated
that the residents of any Indian reserve which adjoins or is situated wholly or partly within an
incorporated town having a population of not less than eight thousand could be legally removed from
their present location without their consent if it was deemed in the interest of the public and of the
Indians of the band for whose use the reserve is held.62 This situated Indian policy in a precarious
position, as by the turn of the nineteenth century the reserve system, originally implemented to isolate
and marginalize Native people for the purpose of social engineering (assimilation), was increasingly
being seen as a failure because of the geographical distance of reserves from the civilizational
influence of urban centers.63 Here you have the economic imperatives of capitalist accumulation
through the dispossession of Indigenous peoples land come into sharp conflict with the white
supremacist impulses of Canadas assimilation policy and the desire of settler society to claim the
city for themselvesand only themselves.64
The civilizational discourse that rationalized both the theft of Indigenous peoples land base and
their subsequent confinement onto reserves facilitated a significant geographical separation of the
colonizer and the colonized that lasted until the mid-twentieth century.65 As Sherene Razack notes, the
segregation of urban from Native space that marked the colonial era began to break down with the
increase in urbanization that took hold in the 1950s and 1960s, which resulted in a new racial
configuration of space. Within this new colonial spatial imaginary,
The city belongs to the settlers and the sullying of civilized society through the
presence of the racialized Other in white spaces gives rise to a careful
management of boundaries within urban space. Planning authorities require larger
plots in the suburbs, thereby ensuring that larger homes and wealthier families
live there. Projects and Chinatowns are created, cordoning off the racial poor.
Such spatial practices, often achieved through law (nuisance laws, zoning laws,
and so on), mark off the spaces of the settler and the native both conceptually and
materially. The inner city is racialized space, the zone in which all that is not
respectable is contained. Canadas colonial geographies exhibit this same pattern
of violent expulsions and the spatial containment of Aboriginal peoples to
marginalized areas of the city, processes consolidated over three hundred years
of colonization.66
The dispossession that originally displaced Indigenous peoples from their traditional territories either
onto reserves or disproportionally into the inner cities of Canadas major urban centers is now
serving to displace Indigenous populations from the urban spaces they have increasingly come to call
home. To this end, I suggest that the analytical frame of settler-colonialism developed throughout the
previous chapters offers an important lens through which to interrogate the power relations that shape
Indigenous peoples experiences in the city, especially those disproportionately inhabiting low-

income areas. As we learned in previous chapters, defenders of settler-colonial power have tended to
rationalize these practices by treating the lands in question as terra nulliusthe racist legal fiction
that declared Indigenous peoples too primitive to bear rights to land and sovereignty when they first
encountered European powers on the continent, thus rendering their territories legally empty and
therefore open for colonial settlement and development.
In the inner cities of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina, Toronto, and so forth, we are seeing a similar
logic govern the gentrification and subsequent displacement of Indigenous peoples from Native
spaces within the city. Commonly defined as the transformation of working-class areas of the city into
middle-class residential or commercial spaces, gentrification is usually accompanied by the
displacement of low-income, racialized, Indigenous, and other marginalized segments of the urban
population.67 Regardless of these violent effects, however, gentrifiers often defend their development
projects as a form of improvement, where previously wasted land or property (rooming houses,
social housing, shelters, small businesses that cater to the community, etc.) and lives (sex-trade
workers, homeless people, the working poor, mentally ill people, those suffering from addictions,
etc.) are made more socially and economically productive. This Lockean rationale has led scholars
like Neil Smith, Nicholas Blomley, and Amber Dean to view the gentrification of urban space through
a colonial lens, as yet another frontier of dispossession central to the accumulation of capital.68
Through gentrification, Native spaces in the city are now being treated as urbs nulliusurban space
void of Indigenous sovereign presence.
All of this is to say that the efficacy of Indigenous resurgence hinges on its ability to address the
interrelated systems of dispossession that shape Indigenous peoples experiences in both urban and
land-based settings. Mikmaq scholar Bonita Lawrence suggests that this will require a concerted
effort on the part of both reserve- and urban-based Indigenous communities to reconceptualize
Indigenous identity and nationhood in a way that refuses to replicate the colonial divisions that
contributed to the urban/reserve divide through racist and sexist policies like enfranchisement.69
Although Lawrences work has shown how Native individuals, families, and communities are able to
creatively retain and reproduce Indigenous traditions in urban settings, she also recognizes the
importance for urban Native people to have some form of mutually agreed upon, structured access to
land-based communities.70 Access to land is essential.
Similar struggles are seen in land-based communities, which would no doubt benefit from the
numbers and human capital offered through the forging of political relations and alliances with the
over 50 percent of Indigenous people now living in cities.71 For Lawrence, all of this suggests that
urban Native people and First Nations need ways of forging national alliances strategically in a
manner that does not demand that First Nation governments endlessly open their membership to those
who grew up disconnected from the life and culture of their original communities, or urban
Indigenous people having to engage in the arduous struggle of maintaining an Indigenous identity cut
off from the communities and homelands that ground such identities.72 In other words, we need to find
ways of bringing together through relations of solidarity and mutual aid the strengths that urban and
reserve-based Native people have developed in their different circumstances, in the interests of our
mutual empowerment.73
Thesis 4: Gender Justice and Decolonization
According to Anishinaabe feminist Dory Nason, if Idle No More showed us anything, it is the

boundless love that Indigenous women have for their families, their lands, their nations, and
themselves as Indigenous people. This love has encouraged Indigenous women everywhere to
resist and protest, to teach and inspire, and to hold accountable both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
allies to their responsibilities to protect the values and traditions that serve as the foundation for the
survival of the land and Indigenous peoples. Nason is also quick to point out, however, that the same
inspirational power of Indigenous womens love to mobilize others to resist settler-colonial
misogynys inherently destructive tendencies has also rendered them subjects of epidemic levels of
violence, sexual assault, imprisonment and cultural and political disempowerment.74
The violence that Indigenous women face is both systemic and symbolic. It is systemic in the sense
that it has been structured, indeed institutionalized, into a relatively secure and resistant set of
oppressive material relations that render Indigenous women more likely than their non-Indigenous
counterparts to suffer severe economic and social privation, including disproportionately high rates
of poverty and unemployment, incarceration, addiction, homelessness, chronic and/or life-threatening
health problems, overcrowded and substandard housing, and lack of access to clean water, as well as
face discrimination and sexual violence in their homes, communities, and workplaces.75 Just as
importantly, however, the violence that Indigenous women face is also symbolic in the sense that
Pierre Bourdieu used the term: gentle, invisible violence, unrecognized as such, chosen as much as
undergone.76 Symbolic violence, in other words, is the subjectifying form of violence that renders
the crushing materiality of systemic violence invisible, appear natural, acceptable.
As we saw in chapter 3, the symbolic violence of settler-colonial misogyny, institutionalized
through residential schools and successive Indian Acts, has become so diffuse that it now saturates all
of our relationships. The misogyny of settler-colonial misrecognition through state legislation, writes
Bonita Lawrence, has functioned so completelyand yet so invisiblyalong gendered lines that it
now informs many of our struggles for recognition and liberation.77 In such contexts, what does it
mean to be held accountable to our responsibilities to protect the values and traditions that serve
as the foundation for the survival of the land and Indigenous peoples? To start, it demands that
Indigenous people, in particular Native men, commit ourselves in practice to uprooting the symbolic
violence that structures Indigenous womens lives as much as we demand in words that the material
violence against Indigenous women come to an end. This is what I take Nason to mean when she asks
that all of us think about what it means for men, on the one hand, to publicly profess an obligation to
protect our women and, on the other, take leadership positions that uphold patriarchal forms of
governance or otherwise ignore the contributions and sovereignty of the women, Indigenous or not.78
Here, the paternalistic and patriarchal insistence that we protect our women from the material
violence they disproportionately face serves to reinforce the symbolic violence of assuming that
Indigenous women are ours to protect. Although many Native male supporters of Idle No More
have done a fairly decent job symbolically recognizing the centrality of Indigenous women to the
movement, this is not the recognition that I hear being demanded by Indigenous feminists. The
demand, rather, is that society, including Indigenous society and particularly Indigenous men, stop
collectively conducting ourselves in a manner that denigrates, degrades, and devalues the lives and
worth of Indigenous women in such a way that epidemic levels of violence are the norm in too many
of their lives. Of course, this violence must be stopped in its overt forms, but we must also stop
practicing it in its more subtle expressionsin our daily relationships and practices in the home,
workplaces, band offices, governance institutions, and, crucially, in our practices of cultural
resurgence. Until this happens we have reconciled ourselves with defeat.

Thesis 5: Beyond the Nation-State

We are now in a position to revisit the concern I raised at the end of chapter 1 regarding a
problematic claim made by Dale Turner in This Is Not a Peace Pipe. Turners claim is that if
Indigenous peoples want the political and legal relationship between ourselves and the Canadian
state to be informed by and reflect our distinct worldviews, then we will have to engage the states
legal and political discourses in more effective ways.79 This form of engagement, I claimed, assumes
that the structure of domination that frames Indigenousstate relations in Canada derives its legitimacy
and sustenance by excluding Indigenous people and voices from the legal and political
institutional/discursive settings within which our rights are determined. Seen from this light, it would
indeed appear that critically undermining colonialism requires that Indigenous peoples find more
effective ways of participating in the Canadian legal and political practices that determine the
meaning of Aboriginal rights.80
Yet, I would venture to suggest that over the last forty years Indigenous peoples have become
incredibly skilled at participating in the Canadian legal and political practices that Turner suggests. In
the wake of the 1969 White Paper, these practices emerged as the hegemonic approach to forging
change in our political relationship with the Canadian state. We have also seen, however, that our
efforts to engage these discursive and institutional spaces to secure recognition of our rights have not
only failed, but have instead served to subtly reproduce the forms of racist, sexist, economic, and
political configurations of power that we initially sought, through our engagements and negotiations
with the state, to challenge. Why has this been the case? Part of the reason has to do with the sheer
magnitude of discursive and nondiscursive power we find ourselves up against in our struggles.
Subsequently, in our efforts to interpolate the legal and political discourses of the state to secure
recognition of our rights to land and self-determination we have too often found ourselves
interpellated as subjects of settler-colonial rule.
What are the implications of this profound power disparity in our struggles for land and freedom?
Does it require that we vacate the field of state negotiations and participation entirely? Of course not.
Settler-colonialism has rendered us a radical minority in our own homelands, and this necessitates
that we continue to engage with the states legal and political system. What our present condition does
demand, however, is that we begin to approach our engagements with the settler-state legal apparatus
with a degree of critical self-reflection, skepticism, and caution that has to date been largely absent in
our efforts. It also demands that we begin to shift our attention away from the largely rightsbased/recognition orientation that has emerged as hegemonic over the last four decades, to a resurgent
politics of recognition that seeks to practice decolonial, gender-emancipatory, and economically
nonexploitative alternative structures of law and sovereign authority grounded on a critical
refashioning of the best of Indigenous legal and political traditions. It is only by privileging and
grounding ourselves in these normative lifeways and resurgent practices that we have a hope of
surviving our strategic engagements with the colonial state with integrity and as Indigenous peoples.


1. When deployed in the Canadian context, I use the terms Indigenous, Aboriginal, and Native interchangeably to refer to the
descendants of those who traditionally occupied the territory now known as Canada before the arrival of European settlers and
state powers. At a more general level I also use these terms in an international context to refer to the non-Western societies that
have suffered under the weight of European colonialism. I use the specific terms Indian and First Nation to refer to those
legally recognized as Indians under the Canadian federal governments Indian Act of 1876 (unless indicated otherwise).

2. Dene Nation, Dene Declaration, in Dene Nation: The Colony Within, ed. Mel Watkins (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
1977), 34 (emphasis added).

3. Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Our Nations, Our Governments: Choosing our Own Paths (Ottawa: Assembly of First
Nations, 2005), 18.

4. Ibid., 1819. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was established by the federal government in 1991 to
investigate the social, cultural, political, and economic impact of the colonial relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the state
in Canada. The commission culminated in a five-volume Final Report, which was published in 1996. The RCAP report will be
examined in detail in chapter 4.

5. For discussion, see Michael Murphy, Culture and the Courts: A New Direct in Canadian Aboriginal Rights Jurisprudence?,
Canadian Journal of Political Science 34, no. 1 (2001): 10929; Murphy, The Limits of Culture in the Politics of SelfDetermination, Ethnicities 1, no. 3 (2001): 36788.

6. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), The Government of Canadas Approach to
Implementation of the Inherent Right and the Negotiation of Aboriginal Self-Government (Ottawa: Published by the
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1995).

7. Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford
University Press, 2007); Sheryl Lightfoot, Indigenous Rights in International Politics: The Case of Overcompliant Liberal
States, Alternatives: Global Local Political 33, no. 1 (2008): 83104; Ronald Niezen, The Origins of Indigenism: Human
Rights and the Politics of Identity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); James (Sakej) Henderson, Indigenous
Diplomacy and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Achieving UN Recognition (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2008).

8. Alan Cairns makes the argument that recognition politics have required the state to reconceptualize the relationship with
Indigenous peoples; see his Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State (Vancouver: University of British
Columbia Press, 2000); and First Nations and the Canadian State: In Search of Coexistence (Kingston, Ont.: Institute of
Intergovernmental Relations, 2005). The language of mutual recognition is used explicitly in RCAP, Report of the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 5 vols. (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1996); Department of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development, Gathering Strength: Canadas Aboriginal Action Plan (Ottawa: Published under the authority of the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1997); A First NationsFederal Crown Political Accord on the
Recognition and Implementation of First Nation Governments (Ottawa: Published under the authority of the Minister of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development, 2005). For a more substantive, postcolonial articulation, see James Tully, Strange
Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in the Age of Diversity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

9. Richard J. F. Day, Multiculturalism and the History of Canadian Diversity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000). Also
see Richard Day and Tonio Sadik, The BC Land Question, Liberal Multiculturalism, and the Spectre of Aboriginal Nationhood,
BC Studies 134 (Summer 2002): 534. The following writings provide a sample of the more influential works in the diverse field
of recognition-based approaches to liberal pluralism: Charles Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, in Re-Examining the Politics
of Recognition, ed. Amy Gutmann, 2773 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994); Will Kymlicka, Multicultural
Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 1995); Kymlicka, Finding Our
Way: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 1998); Kymlicka, Politics in
the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 2001); Kymlicka,
Multicultural Odyssey; Tully, Strange Multiplicity; Patrick Macklem, Indigenous Difference and the Constitution of Canada
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001); RCAP, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; Keith Banting,
Thomas Courchene, and F. Leslie Seidle, eds., The Art of the State, vol. 3, Belonging? Diversity, Recognition and Shared
Citizenship in Canada (Kingston, Ont.: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 2007); Siobhn Harty and Michael Murphy, In
Defence of Multinational Citizenship (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005).

10. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy
(Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1969). For an authoritative analysis of the philosophical
underpinnings of the 1969 White Paper, see Dale Turner, This Is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a Critical Indigenous Philosophy
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).

11. For a history of this period, see John Tobias, Protection, Assimilation, Civilization, in Sweet Promises: A History of IndianWhite Relations in Canada, ed. J. R. Miller, 12744 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991); RCAP, Report of the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, vol. 1.

12. J. R. Miller, Shingwauks Vision: A History of Indian Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996). This
book provides an authoritative history of residential schools in Canada.

13. Sarah Carter, Lost Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy (Montreal: McGill-Queens University
Press, 1993); Helen Buckley, From Wooden Ploughs to Welfare: Why Indian Policy Failed the Prairie Provinces (Montreal:
McGill-Queens University Press, 1992).

14. Bonita Lawrence, Gender, Race and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States, Hypatia 18, no. 2
(2003): 331; Lawrence, Real Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood
(Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005).

15. Christopher Walmsley, Protecting Aboriginal Children (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005).

16. On settler-colonialism and the logic of elimination, see Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,
Journal of Genocide Studies 8, no. 4 (2006): 387409.

17. Statement of the National Indian Brotherhood, in Recent Statements by the Indians of Canada, Anglican Church of Canada
General Synod Action 1969, Bulletin 201, 1970, 28, quoted in Olive Patricia Dickason, Canadas First Nations: A History of
Founding Peoples from Earliest Times (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1992), 386.

18. Sally Weaver, cited in Leonard Rotman, Parallel Paths: Fiduciary Doctrine and the Crown-Native Relationship in Canada
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 7.

19. Dickason, Canadas First Nations, 388.

20. Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia (1973).

21. St Catherines Milling and Lumber Company v. The Queen (1888).

22. For an excellent discussion of the Calder case and its influence, see Michael Asch, From Calder to Van der Peet: Aboriginal
Rights and Canadian Law, 197396, in Indigenous Peoples Rights in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, ed. Paul
Havemann, 42846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

23. Ibid., 43032.

24. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Statement on Claims of Indian and Inuit People: A Federal Native
Claims Policy (Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development), 1973.

25. Francis Abele, Katherine Graham, and Allan Maslove, Negotiating Canada: Changes in Aboriginal Policy over the Last Thirty
Years, in How Ottawa Spends, 19992000, ed. Leslie Pal (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 2000), 259.

26. Jean Chrtien in Montreal Gazette, June 16, 1972, 1, quoted in Robert Davis and Mark Zanis, The Genocide Machine in
Canada (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1973), 42.

27. Mel Watkins, ed., Dene Nation: The Colony Within (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977); Thomas Berger, Northern
Frontier, Northern Homeland: The Report of The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre,
1977). These texts summarize the struggle of the Mtis and Dene during this period. On the efforts of the James Bay Cree, see
Boyce Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1991).

28. Wolfe, Settler-Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native, 388. Throughout the following chapters I will often use the terms
settler-colonialism, colonialism, and (on occasion) imperialism interchangeably to avoid repetitiveness. I do so, however,
acknowledging the distinction that Wolfe, Lorenzo Veracini (Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview [London: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2010]), Robert Young (Postcolonialism: A Historical Introduction [Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001]), and James
Tully (Public Philosophy in a New Key, vol 1. [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004]) have drawn between these
interrelated concepts. In the work of all of these scholars, settler-colonial and colonial relationships are conceptualized as more
direct forms or practices of maintaining an imperial system of dominance. Settler-colonialism, in particular, refers to contexts
where the territorial infrastructure of the colonizing society is built on and overwhelms the formerly self-governing but now
dispossessed Indigenous nations; indeed, settler-colonial polities are predicated on maintaining this dispossession. Imperialism is a
much broader concept, which may include colonial and settler-colonial formations, but could also be carried out indirectly through
noncolonial means.

29. Karl Marx, Capital, vol 1. (New York: Penguin, 1990).

30. Ibid., 874.

31. Ward Churchill, ed., Marxism and Native Americans (Boston: South End Press, 1983). The character of the debate is well
represented in this text.

32. Charles Menzies, Indigenous Nations and Marxism: Notes on an Ambivalent Relationship, New Proposals: Journal of
Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 3, no. 3 (2010): 5.

33. Peter Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 221.

34. Jim Glassman, Primitive Accumulation, Accumulation by Dispossession, Accumulation by Extra-Economic Means, Progress
in Human Geography 30, no. 5 (2005): 611.

35. Marx, Capital, 1:899. The degree to which Marx is susceptible to this general line of criticism is itself the subject of debate. For
instance, an interesting argument developed by Massimo De Angelis suggests that if we conceive of primitive accumulation as a
set of strategies that seeks to permanently maintain a separation of workers from the means of production then it would follow
that this process must be ongoing insofar as this separation is constitutive of the capital relation as such. The specific character of
primitive accumulation strategies might change at any given historical juncture, but as a general process of ongoing separation it
must remain in effect indefinitely. See Massimo De Angelis, Marx and Primitive Accumulation: The Continuous Character of
Capitals Enclosures, The Commoner, no. 2 (September 2001): 122. However, the question this position raises is why then
utilize the historical marker primitive to refer to the process at all, instead of simply referencing the accumulation of capital
proper? This latter question is explored in Paul Zarembka, Primitive Accumulation in Marxism, Historical or Trans-Historical
Separation from Means of Production?, The Commoner (March 2002), 19, as a qualification to Angeliss earlier contribution to
the same journal.

36. David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch:
Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation (New York: Autonomedia, 2004); Taiaiake Alfred, Wasse: Indigenous Path
ways of Actions and Freedom (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2005); Rauna Kuokkanen, Globalization as Racialized,
Sexual Violence: The Case of Indigenous Women, International Feminist Journal of Politics 10, no. 2 (2008): 21633; Andrea
Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (Boston: South End Press, 2005). Also see Retort
Collective, Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (New York: Verso, 2005); Michael Pearlman, The
Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2000); Todd Gordon, Canada, Empire, and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, Socialist Studies 2, no. 1
(2006): 4775; Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery (London: Verso, 1997). Also see De Angelis, Marx and
Primitive Accumulation; De Angeliss article is one of many contributions in the issue devoted to examining the continual
relevance of Marxs dispossession thesis in the contemporary period.

37. Robert Nichols, Indigeneity and the Settler Contract Today, Philosophy and Social Criticism 39, no. 2 (2013): 166.

38. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), 84.

39. Karl Marx, The British Rule in India, in Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, On Colonialism (Honolulu: University Press of the
Pacific, 2001), 4142. This is also the underlying thrust of Marx and Engelss famous assertion in The Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication,
draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which
it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It
compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls
civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word it creates the world after its own image (Karl
Marx: Selected Writings, ed. David McClelland [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987], 225). For a useful discussion of this
aspect of Marxs argument, see Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (New York: Verso, 1994); Epifanio San
Juan Jr., Beyond Postcolonial Theory (New York: Saint Martins Press, 1999); Arif Dirlik, The Postcolonial Aura: Third World
Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998); Crystal Bartolovich and Neil Lazarus, eds.,
Marxism, Modernity, and Postcolonial Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

40. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History (New York: Dover, 1956), 99; Karl Marx, The Future Results of
the British Rule in India, in On Colonialism, by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific,
2001), 81.

41. This rigidly unilinear understanding of historical development began to shift significantly in Marxs work after the collapse of the
European labor movement following the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871. It was at this point that Marx began to again turn
his attention to the study of non-Western societies. Marx scholars have tended to identify three areas of Marxs late writings
(187283) that reflect this shift in perspective: (1) editorial changes introduced by Marx to the 187275 French edition of Capital,
vol. 1, that strip the primitive accumulation thesis of any prior suggestion of unilinearism; (2) a cluster of late writings on Russia
that identify the Russian communal village as a potential launching point for socialist development; and (3) the extensive (but
largely ignored) ethnological notebooks produced by Marx between 1879 and 1882. See, in particular, Kevin Anderson, Marxs
Late Writings on Non-Western and Pre-Capitalist Societies and Gender, Rethinking Marxism 14, no. 4 (2002): 8496; and
Gareth Stedman Jones, Radicalism and the Extra-European World: The Case of Karl Marx, in Victorian Visions of Global
Order: Empire and International Relations in Nineteenth-Century Political Thought, ed. Duncan Bell, 186214 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2007). Although each of these three strands in Marxs late scholarship are instructive in their own
right, his 187275 French revisions to Capital are of particular interest for us here because of the specific focus paid to the
primitive accumulation thesis. Marx referred to these revisions in a well-known 1877 letter he wrote to Russian radical N. K.
Mikailovsky, in which he states that the chapter on primitive accumulation should not be read as a historico-philosophical
theory of the general course imposed on all peoples; but rather as a historical examination of the path by which, in Western
Europe, the capitalist economic order emerged from the womb of the feudal economic order (Karl Marx, A Letter to N. K.
Mikailovsky, transcribed and reprinted in The New International 1, no. 4 [November 1934]: 1). Marx makes the virtually
analogous point in his well-known letter to Russian populist Vera Zasulich (Karl Marx, A Letter to Vera Zasulich, in McClelland,
Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 57680).

42. Marx, Capital, 1:932.

43. Ibid., 1:940. For a discussion of this feature of Marxs project, see R. Young, Postcolonialism, 1013.

44. Marx, Capital, 1:932.

45. As David McNally succinctly puts it: at its heart primitive accumulation is ultimately about the commodification of human
labour power (Another World Is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism [Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 2006], 107).

46. Federici, Caliban and the Witch, 12.

47. For an example of this line of argument drawn from the neoliberal right, see Thomas Flanagan, First Nations, Second Thoughts
(Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2000). For an example claiming to speak from the left, see Frances Widdowson and
Albert Howard, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation (Montreal:
McGill-Queens University Press, 2008).

48. Aidan Foster-Carter, The Modes of Production Controversy, New Left Review 107 (1978): 4777. This text provides an
excellent introduction to the articulation of modes of production debate.

49. For an autonomous Marxist critique of socialist primitive accumulation that also draws off the insights of Kropotkin, see Harry
Cleaver, Kropotkin, Self-Valorization, and the Crisis of Marxism, Anarchist Studies 2, no. 2 (2003): 11936.

50. Frances Abele and Daiva Stasiulis, Canada as a White Settler Colony: What about Natives and Immigrants, in The New
Canadian Political Economy, ed. Wallace Clement and Glen Williams (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1989), 252
53. Also see Terry Wotherspoon and Vic Satzewich, First Nations: Race, Class, and Gender Relations (Regina: Canadian
Plains Research Centre, 2000); David Bedford and Danielle Irving, The Tragedy of Progress: Marxism, Modernity and the
Aboriginal Question (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2001). On the importance of Native labor to Canadian political economic
development, see John Lutz, Makuk: A New History of AboriginalWhite Relations (Vancouver: University of British Columbia
Press, 2008).

51. Cole Harris, How Did Colonialism Dispossess? Comments from an Edge of Empire, Annals of the Association of American
Geographers 94, no. 1 (2004): 167.

52. Canada, Annual Report Department of Indian Affairs, Sessional Papers, 1890, no. 12, 165.

53. Taiaiake Alfred articulates this point well in the context of Canadas land claims and self-government policies when he writes:
The framework of current reformist or reconciling negotiations are about handing us the scraps of history: self-government and
jurisdictional authorities for state-created Indian governments within the larger colonial system and subjection of Onkwehonwe
[Indigenous peoples] to the blunt force of capitalism by integrating them as wage slaves into the mainstream resource-exploitation
economy (Wasse, 37).

54. Marx, Capital, 1:876.

55. Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism of the End of the World? (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2007);
John Bellamy Foster, Marxs Ecology: Materialism and Nature (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000). These authors
provide a constructive conversation regarding both the limits and potential of Marxs ecological insights.

56. On intersectionality as a methodological approach to studying questions of race, class, gender and state power, I am indebted to a
number of critical works, including the following: Rita Dhamoon, Identity/Difference Politics: How Difference Is Produced,
and Why It Matters (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009); Yasmin Jiwani, Discourses of Denial: Mediations
of Race, Gender and Violence (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2006); Smith, Conquest; Chandra Talpade
Mohanty, Feminism without Borders (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003); Razak Sherene, Looking White People in the
Eye: Gender, Race and Culture in Courtrooms and Classrooms (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998).

57. Marx, Capital, 1:874.

58. Ibid., 1:926.

59. In framing this question, I do not intend to suggest that the day-to-day effects of colonial dispossession within our communities
have not been incredibly violent in character. All evidence points to the contrary. Nor am I suggesting that the era of overtly
coercive colonial rule has come to an end. The frequency of what have at times been spectacular displays of state power
deployed against relatively small numbers of Indigenous community activists has shown this not to be the case either. The violent
state interventions that transpired at Kanesatake in 1990 and Gustafsen Lake in 1995 demonstrate this all too well. I am merely
suggesting that strategically deployed state violence no longer constitutes the first response in maintaining settler-colonial
hegemony vis--vis Indigenous nations. On the military and paramilitary attacks at Kanesatake and Gustafsen Lake, see Geoffrey
York and Loreen Pindera, People of the Pines: The Warriors and the Legacy of Oka (Toronto: Little, Brown and Company,
1991); and Sandra Lambertus, Wartime Images, Peacetime Wounds: The Media and the Gustafsen Lake Standoff (Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 2004).

60. See in particular, Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markmann (1967; repr., Boston: Grove Press,
1991); Fanon, A Dying Colonialism (Boston: Grove Press, 1965); Fanon, Toward the African Revolution (Boston: Grove Press,
1967); Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Boston: Grove Press, 2005). For a theory of colonial governmentality that draws more
centrally from Michel Foucaults contributions, see David Scott, Colonial Governmentality, Social Text 43 (Autumn 1995): 191
220. Also see, Michel Foucault, Governmentality and The Subject of Power, in Power: The Essential Works of Michel
Foucault, vol. 3, ed. James Faubian (New York: The New Press, 1994), 20122, 32648.

61. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 4.

62. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977).

63. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 45.

64. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 3233.

65. James Clifford, Taking Identity Politics Seriously: The Contradictory Stony Ground . . . , in Without Guarantees: Essays in
Honour of Stuart Hall, ed. Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg, and Angela McRobbie, 94112 (London: Verso, 2000).

66. Brian Barry, Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001), 325.

67. Nancy Fraser, Rethinking Recognition: Overcoming Displacement and Reification in Cultural Politics, in Recognition
Struggles and Social Movements: Identities, Agency and Power, ed. Barbara Hobson (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2003), 22.

68. I would argue that this claim applies to other identity-related struggles as well. As James Tully suggests, when struggles over
recognition are conceived of in broad or ontological terms, it is clear that any effort to alter the norms under which citizens
are led to recognize themselves [and each other] will have effects in the distribution or redistribution of the relations of power
among them. This is as true in cases where workers collectively struggle to challenge the prevailing norms of exploitative
nonrecognition that have hitherto excluded them from participating in the democratic governance of a site of production, as it is in
contexts where a group of Indigenous women challenge a patriarchal norm of misrecognition which has functioned to exclude,
assimilate, or dominate them. When seen in this light, many, if not most, of todays prominent social movements clearly exhibit
both recognition and distribution aspects (Public Philosophy in a New Key [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008],

69. Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? A Political Philosophical Exchange (New York: Verso,
2003), 7278.

70. Cressida Heyes, Line Drawings: Defining Women through Feminist Practice (Ithaca: Cornel University Press, 2000), 35.

71. Anne Philips, Multiculturalism without Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 14.

72. Richard J. F. Day, Gramsci Is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pluto Press,
2005), 15.

1. The Politics of Recognition in Colonial Contexts

1. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit.

2. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 148.

3. R. Young, Postcolonialism, 275.

4. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?, 1.

5. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 11119.

6. See in particular, Alexander Kojve, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit (New
York: Basic Books, 1969). Also see Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Washington Square Press, 1956);
Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (New York: Schocken Books, 1974); Sartre, Black
Orpheus, in Race, ed. Robert Bernasconi, 11542 (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2001). The relationship between Fanon
and Sartre on the question of recognition will be taken up in more detail in chapter 5.

7. Nigel Gibson, Dialectical Impasses: Turning the Table on Hegel and the Black, Parallax 8, no. 2 (2002): 31.

8. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? 11.

9. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 178.

10. Robert Pippin, What Is the Question for Which Hegels Theory of Recognition Is the Answer?, European Journal of
Philosophy 8, no. 2 (2000): 156.

11. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 19192.

12. Ibid., 191, 192.

13. Ibid., 195.

14. Robert Williams, Hegel and Nietzsche: Recognition and Master/Slave, Philosophy Today 45, no. 5 (2001): 16.

15. Patchen Markell, Bound by Recognition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 2532. One could argue that this is not
necessarily the case with respect to Hegels later works, particularly The Philosophy of Right (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1952), where the state is understood to play a key role in mediating relations of recognition.

16. Markell, Bound by Recognition, 25.

17. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 61, 40.

18. Ibid., 61.

19. Ibid., 3234; and Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1989), 27.

20. Charles Taylor, The Malaise of Modernity (Toronto: Anansi Press, 1991), 4546.

21. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 25

22. Ibid., 26, 36.

23. Ibid., 36, 64.

24. Ibid., 26.

25. Ibid., 40; also see Charles Taylor, Reconciling the Solitudes: Essays on Canadian Federalism and Nationalism (Montreal:
McGill-Queens University Press, 1993), 148, 180.

26. Taylor, Reconciling the Solitudes, 180. Also see Charles Taylor, On the Draft Nisgaa Treaty, BC Studies 120 (Winter
1998/1999): 3740.

27. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 40.

28. Richard Day and Tonio Sadik, The BC Land Question, Liberal Multiculturalism, and the Spectre of Aboriginal Nationhood, BC
Studies 134 (2002): 6. Taylor, Reconciling the Solitudes, 148. Taylor, Politics of Recognition, 41.

29. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 6566.

30. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 12; Taylor, Politics of Recognition, 6566. Also see Charles Taylor, Philosophical
Papers, vol. 2, Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 235.

31. A number of studies have mapped the similarities and differences between the dialectic of recognition as conceived by Fanon
and Hegel, but relatively few have applied Fanons insights to critique the groundswell appropriation of Hegels theory of
recognition to address contemporary questions surrounding the recognition of cultural diversity. Even fewer have used Fanons
writings to problematize the utility of a politics of recognition for restructuring hierarchical relations among disparate identities in
colonial contexts. For a survey of the available literature, see Irene Gendzier, Fanon: A Critical Study (New York: Grove Press,
1974); Hussien Bulhan, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression (New York: Plenum Press, 1985); Lou Turner, On
the Difference between the Hegelian and Fanonian Dialectic of Lordship and Bondage, in Fanon: A Critical Reader, ed. Lewis
Gordon, Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Renee White, 13451 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996); Beatrice Hanssen, Ethics of
the Other, in A Turn to Ethics, ed. Marjorie Garber, Beatrice Hanssen, and Rebecca Walkowitz, 12780 (New York: Routledge,
2000); Sonia Kruks, Retrieving Experience: Subjectivity and Recognition in Feminist Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 2001); Kelly Oliver, Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001); Nigel Gibson,
Dialectical Impasse: Turning the Table on Hegel and the Black, Parallax 23 (2002): 3045; Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial
Imagination (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003); Anita Chari, Exceeding Recognition, Sartre Studies International 10, no. 2
(2004): 11022; Andrew Schaap, Political Reconciliation through a Struggle for Recognition?, Social and Legal Studies 13, no.
4 (2004): 52340.

32. Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, in Mapping Ideology, ed. Slavoj iek (London: Verso, 1994),

33. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 84 (emphasis added).

34. Fanons contemporary Albert Memmi drew a similar conclusion five years later, in 1957: Constantly confronted with this image
of himself, set forth and imposed on all institutions and in every human contact, how could the colonized help reacting to this
portrait? It cannot leave him indifferent and remain a veneer which, like an insult, blows with the wind. He ends up recognizing it
as one would a detested nickname which has become a familiar description. . . . Wilfully created and spread by the colonizer, this
mythical and degrading portrait ends up being accepted and lived to a certain extent by the colonized. It thus acquires a certain
amount of reality and contributes to the true portrait of the colonized (The Colonizer and the Colonized [Boston: Beacon Press,
1991], 8788 [emphasis added]).

35. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 11112.

36. Ibid., 109.

37. Ibid., 111.

38. Ibid., 112.

39. Ibid., 109.

40. Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 26.

41. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 1112.

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid., 11.

44. Ibid., 202.

45. Ibid., 11.

46. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 5.

47. Georg Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1994), 83.

48. For example, see Himani Bannerji, Dark Side of the Nation (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2001); Richard Rorty,
Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998);
Rorty, Is Cultural Recognition a Useful Notion for Leftist Politics?, Critical Horizons 1, no. 1 (2000): 720; Richard Day,
Who Is This We That Gives the Gift? Native American Political Theory and The Western Tradition, Critical Horizons 2, no. 2
(2001): 173201; Day and Sadik, The BC Land Question, 534; Brian Barry, Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique
of Multiculturalism (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002); Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?

49. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?, 1213.

50. Day, Who Is This We That Gives the Gift?, 189.

51. In particular, see Howard Adams, Prison of Grass: Canada from a Native Point of View (Saskatoon: Fifth House Publishers,
1975); Adams, A Tortured People: The Politics of Colonization (Penticton, Ont.: Theytus Books, 1999). Also see Marie
Smallface Marule, Traditional Indian Government: Of the People, By the People and For the People, in Pathways to SelfDetermination: Canadian Indians and the Canadian State, ed. Menno Boldt, J. Anthony Long, and Leroy Little Bear, 3653
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984); Watkins, Dene Nation.

52. For example, see: Lee Maracle, I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism (Vancouver: Press Gang
Publishers, 1988); Taiaiake Alfred, Peace Power Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University
Press, 1999); Alfred, Wasse; Smith, Conquest; Gord Hill, Indigenous Anti-Colonialism, Upping the Anti 5 (2007), 415.

53. Alfred, Peace Power Righteousness, 60.

54. Alfred, Wasse, 133.

55. A more thorough treatment of Indigenous anticapitalism in Canada will be examined in chapters 2 and my concluding chapter.

56. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?, 29.

57. Day, Who Is This We That Gives the Gift?, 176. Also see Nancy Fraser, Against Anarchism, Public Seminar Blog,
October 9, 2013,

58. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?, 100.

59. Ibid., 31.

60. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 11.

61. For a comprehensive evaluation of Frasers critique of psychologization in the work of Charles Taylor and Axel Honneth, see
Simon Thompson, The Political Theory of Recognition (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006), 3141.

62. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 217 (emphasis added).

63. Ibid.

64. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 11314.

65. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 220 (emphasis added).

66. Ibid., 18.

67. Ibid., 12.

68. Turner, On the Difference, 146.

69. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 221.

70. Oliver, Witnessing.

71. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 9.

72. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 22022.

73. Taylor, Politics of Recognition, 50 (emphasis added).

74. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 220 (emphasis added).

75. Will Kymlicka frames the problem of colonialism as a matter of unjust incorporation into dominant state structures; see his
Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 1995); Finding Our
Way: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 1998); Politics in the
Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 2001).

76. Todd Gordon, Canada, Empire and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, Socialist Studies 2, no. 1 (2006): 4775.

77. Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff, Reassessing the Paradigm of Domestication: The Problematic of Indigenous Treaties, Review of
Constitutional Studies 4, no. 2 (1998): 23989.

78. Michael Asch, From Calder to Van der Peet: Aboriginal Rights and Canadian Law, in Indigenous Peoples Rights in
Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, ed. Paul Havemann, 42846 (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1999); Patrick
Macklem, Indigenous Difference and the Constitution of Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001); James Tully,
The Struggles of Indigenous Peoples for and of Freedom, in Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ed.
Duncan Ivison, Paul Patton, and Will Saunders, 3659 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

79. Supreme Court of Canada, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997), 3 SCR 1010, in Delgamuukw: The Supreme Court of
Canada Decision on Aboriginal Title (Vancouver: David Suzuki Foundation, 1998), 35, quoted in James Tully, Aboriginal
Peoples: Negotiating Reconciliation, in Canadian Politics, ed. James Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon, 3rd ed. (Peterborough,
Ont.: Broadview Press, 2000), 413.

80. Elizabeth Povinelli, The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2002).

81. Eduardo Duran and Bonnie Duran, Native American Postcolonial Psychology (Albany: State University of New York Press,

82. Alfred, Wasse.

83. Bill Ashcroft, Post-Colonial Transformations (New York: Routledge, 2001), 35.

84. Ashcroft, Post-Colonial Transformations; David Scott, Refashioning Futures: Criticism after Postcoloniality (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1999); Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2004).

85. I think Taylors own account of recognition demands an answer to this question also. For instance, in relying on Hegels
master/slave dialectic to make his point about the constitutive relation between recognition and freedom, Taylor seems to
downplay the fact that the agency and self-understanding fought for and won by the slave occurs in a condition marked by
inequality and misrecognition, not reciprocity. As Nikolas Kompridis points out, here the slave is able, at least partially, to resolve
the epistemological crisis set in motion by his unsatisfied . . . desire for recognition without receiving the kinds of recognition
[theorists such as Taylor regard] as necessary and sufficient conditions of successful agency and personal identity. This same
point can be made with respect to the background political context animating Taylors essay: namely, since confederation the
respective relationships of Quebec and Indigenous peoples to the Canadian state have been marked by domination, yet both
Quebec and Indigenous peoples routinely resist this dominance through creative displays of political agency and collective
empowerment; the Quiet Revolution and Red Power movements provide two particularly salient examples of this. In light of this,
the question that needs to be asked again is where are these manifestations of collective empowerment coming from if not from
recognition provided by the Canadian state? See Nikolas Kompridis, Struggling over the Meaning of Recognition: A Matter of
Identity, Justice or Freedom?, European Journal of Political Theory 6 (2007): 283.

86. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 222.

87. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 148.

88. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 221.

89. Kruks, Retrieving Experience, 101. Fanons position on the emancipatory potential of negritude will be explored further in
chapter 5.

90. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 222.

91. R. Young, Postcolonialism, 275. For an authoritative treatment of the historical successes and failures of the Third Worlds
postcolonial political projects, see Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A Peoples History of the Third World (New York: The
New Press, 2007).

92. Jorge Larrain, Stuart Hall and the Marxist Concept of Ideology, in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed.
David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (New York: Routledge, 1996), 48; John Scott, Power (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001), 10.
Also see Stuart Hall, The Problem of Ideology: Marxism without Guarantees, in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural
Studies, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, 2546 (New York: Routledge, 1996).

93. Larrain makes a similar point but without reference to Fanon in Stuart Hall and the Marxist Concept of Ideology, 49.

94. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1991), 183.

95. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 8.

96. R. Young, Postcolonialism, 295.

97. Dale Turner, This Is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a Critical Indigenous Philosophy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
2006), 5.

98. Ibid., 31.

99. Ibid., 111.

100. Ibid., 114.

101. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 51.

102. Ibid., 54.

103. Ibid., 44.

104. Alfred, Wasse, 58, 30.

105. bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics (Boston: South End Press, 1990), 22.

2. For the Land

1. Lois McNay, Against Recognition (London: Polity, 2008), 3.

2. Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception behind Indigenous Cultural
Preservation (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 2007), 264.

3. Frances Widdowson, March 15, 2010, comment on Peter Kulchyski, With friends like this, aboriginal people dont need enemies,
Canadian Dimension, (emphasis added).

4. Widdowson and Howard, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, 264.

5. Ian Angus, A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 1997), 3.

6. Fraser and Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?, 7278.

7. Day, Gramsci Is Dead, 4.

8. See Kerry Abel, Drum Songs: Glimpses of History (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 1993), 316.

9. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gwichin Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement, 2 vols. (Ottawa:
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1992). For background information on the Inuvialuit comprehensive
claim, see Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, NWT Plain Facts: On Land and Self-Government, The
Inuvialuit Final Agreement (Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2007).

10. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, 2
vols. (Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1993).

11. For background information on the Tlicho Agreement, see Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Tlicho

12. Under federal policy, specific claims differ from comprehensive claims insofar as the latter do not involve an Aboriginal title
claim but rather seek to implement the specific rights and provisions outlined in a historical treaty (which the Crown has failed to
live up to), or those that flow from the states fiduciary obligation to protect the interests of Aboriginal peoples in its management
of band money, lands or other assets. See Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Specific Claims: Justice at
Last (Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services, 2007).

13. Martha Johnson and Robert A. Ruttan, Traditional Dene Environmental Knowledge (Hay River, N.W.T.: Published by the
Dene Cultural Institute, 1993), 9899; Michael Asch, The Economics of Dene Self-Determination, in Challenging
Anthropology, ed. David H. Turner and Gavin A. Smith (Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 1980), 34547; Asch, The Dene Economy, in
Watkins, Dene Nation, 5657; Peter Usher, The North: One Land, Two Ways of Life, in Heartland and Hinterland: A
Geography of Canada, ed. L. D. McCann (Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice-Hall, 1982), 483529.

14. Asch, The Dene Economy, 5658.

15. Abel, Drum Songs, 244.

16. Mark Dickerson, Whose North? Political Change, Political Development, and Self-Government in the Northwest
Territories (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1992), 8990.

17. Ibid., 90.

18. Statistics Canada, 2001 Census Analysis SeriesA Profile of the Canadian Population: Where We Live (Ottawa:
Government of Canada, 2001), 1.

19. Dene Nation, Denendeh: A Dene Celebration (Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Dene Nation, 1984), 19.

20. Dickerson, Whose North?, 8384.

21. Garth M. Evans, The Carrothers Commission Revisited, in Northern Transitions, vol. 2, Second National Workshop on
People, Resources and the Environment North of 60, ed. Robert Keith and Janet Wright (Ottawa: Canadian Arctic Resources
Committee, 1978), 299.

22. Dickerson, Whose North?, 86.

23. Institute for Psycho-Political Research and Education, Political Development in the Northwest Territories, in Keith and Wright,
Northern Transitions, 2:318.

24. Gerald Sutton, Aboriginal Rights, in Watkins, Dene Nation, 149.

25. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Oil and Gas North of 60: A Report of Activities in 1969 (Ottawa:
Queens Printer, 1970), 4, quoted in Bruce Alden Cox, Changing Perceptions of Industrial Development in the North, in Native
Peoples, Native Lands, ed. Bruce Alden Cox (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1991), 223.

26. Berger, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, 1:ix.

27. Ibid.

28. Edgar Dosman, The National Interest: The Politics of Northern Development, 196875 (Toronto: McClelland and Stuart,
1975), xiii.

29. Ibid., 25.

30. Peter Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum: Aboriginal Cultural Politics in Denendeh and Nunavut (Winnipeg: University
of Manitoba Press, 2005), 6162. On the differing ideological perspectives of each organization vis--vis northern development,
see Peter Usher, Northern Development, Impact Assessment, and Social Change, in Anthropology, Public Policy and Native
Peoples in Canada, ed. Noel Dick and James Waldram (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1993), 11011.

31. Re: Paulette and Registrar of Land Titles, (1973). For a discussion of the caveat, also see Abel, Drum Songs, 250.

32. Abel, Drum Songs, 250.

33. Quoted in Miggs Wynne Morris, Return to the Drum: Teaching among the Dene in Canadas North (Edmonton: NeWest
Press, 2000), 138.

34. On the history of Treaties 8 and 11 see Rene Fumoleau, As Long as This Land Shall Last: A History of Treaty 8 and Treaty
11, 18701939 (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004).

35. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Statement on Claims of Indian and Inuit People.

36. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Comprehensive Claims Policy and Status of Claims, March 2002, 1.

37. Berger, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, xxvixxvii.

38. Frances Abele, The Berger Inquiry and the Politics of Transformation in the Mackenzie Valley (PhD diss., York University,
1983), 1.

39. Usher, Northern Development, Impact Assessment and Social Change, 111.

40. Vine Deloria Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, 1992), esp. 6176.

41. Ibid., 62 (emphasis added).

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid., 63.

44. Vine Deloria Jr., Power and Place Equal Personality, in Power and Place: Indian Education in America, by Vine Deloria Jr.
and Daniel Wildcat (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, 2001), 23.

45. Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction (New York: Blackwell, 2004), 11.

46. For further elaboration, see Allice Legat, Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire: Knowledge and Stewardship among the
Tlicho Dene (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012).

47. Bill Erasmus, foreword to Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government, Social Suffering, and Aboriginal Policy in Canada, by
Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009), xxv; Sally Anne Zoe, Madelaine Chocolat, and
Allice Legat, Tlicho Nde: The Importance of Knowing, unpublished research paper prepared for the Dene Cultural Institute,
Dogrib Treaty 11 Council and BHP Diamonds Inc. (1995), 5. These references discuss land-as-relationship in the Dene context.
For similar accounts in other Indigenous contexts, see, Paul Nadasdy, The Gift in the Animal: The Ontology of Hunting and
HumanAnimal Sociality, American Ethnologist 34, no. 1 (2007): 2543; Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Language and
Landscape among the Western Apache (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996); Thomas F. Thornton, Being and
Place among the Tlingit (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008).

48. George Blondin, When the World Was New: Stories of the Sahtu Dene (Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Outcrop Publishers, 1990), 155

49. Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 88.

50. Philip Blake, Statement to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, in Watkins, Dene Nation, 78 (emphasis added).

51. See, for example, Lesley Malloch, Dene Government: Past and Future (Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Western Constitutional Forum,
1984). Also see Berger, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, 93100; George Barnaby, George Kurszewski, and Gerry
Cheezie, The Political System and the Dene, in Watkins, Dene Nation, 12029.

52. Dene Nation, Dene Declaration, in Watkins, Dene Nation, 3.

53. Gerald (Taiaiake) Alfred, Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors: Kahnawake and the Rise of Native Nationalism (Don Mills,
Ont.: Oxford University Press, 1995), 14.

54. Ibid., 178. On the nationalism as invented tradition thesis see Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of
Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983).

55. Alfred, Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors, 14.

56. Abel, Drum Songs, 231.

57. Usher, Northern Development, Impact Assessment and Social Change, 99.

58. On the application of the mode of production concept to Dene self-determination, I am indebted to the work of Peter Kulchyski
and Michael Asch in particular. See Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 3442, 1034; Michael Asch, Dene SelfDetermination and the Study of Hunter-Gatherers in the Modern World, in Politics and History in Band Societies, ed. Eleanor
Leacock and Richard Lee, 34771 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). Also see: Hugh Brody, The Living Arctic:
Hunters of the Canadian North (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1987); Brody, Maps and Dreams (Vancouver: Douglas and
McIntyre, 1988); Brody, The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the Modern World (Vancouver:
Douglas and McIntyre, 2000). Also see these writings on the subject: Peter J. Usher, The Class System, Metropolitan
Dominance, and Northern Development in Canada, Antipode 8, no. 3 (1976): 2832; Usher, Staple Production and Ideology in
Northern Canada, in Culture, Communications and Dependency, ed. W. H. Melody, L. Salter, and P. Heyer, 17786
(Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing, 1982); Usher, The North: One Land, Two Ways of Life, in Heartland and Hinterland: A
Geography of Canada, ed. L. D. McCann, 483529 (Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice-Hall, 1982); Usher, Environment, Race and
Nation Reconsidered: Reflections on Aboriginal Land Claims in Canada, Canadian Geographer 47, no. 4 (2003): 36582.

59. Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 38.

60. Marx, The German Ideology in Karl Marx: Selected Writings, ed. David McLelland (New York: Oxford University Press,
1987), 161 (emphasis added). The full quote reads: [A] mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production
of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of
expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore,
coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce [it] (emphasis added).

61. Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 38.

62. See Asch, The Dene Economy.

63. Joan Ryan, Doing Things the Right Way: Dene Traditional Justice in Lac La Martre, NWT (Calgary: University of Calgary
Press, 1995), 1.

64. Barnaby, Kurszewski, and Cheezie, The Political System and the Dene, 120.

65. For a comprehensive elaboration on this point in the context of land claims in British Columbia, see Andrew Woolford, Between
Justice and Certainty: Treaty-Making in British Columbia (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005); Taiaiake
Alfred, Deconstructing the British Columbia Treaty Process, Balayi: Culture, Law and Colonialism 3 (2001): 3766. Also see,
Gabrielle Slowey, Navigating Neoliberalism: Self-Determination and the Mikisew Cree First Nation (Vancouver: University
of British Columbia Press, 2008).

66. Joyce Green, Decolonization and Recolonization, in Changing Canada: Political Economy as Transformation, ed. Wallace
Clement and Leah Vosko (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2003), 52.

67. United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements
between States and Indigenous Populations, final report by Miguel Alfonso Martinez, Special Rapporteur, Sub-Commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, 51st Session, June 22, 1999, 30.

68. Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, A Proposal to the Government and People of Canada, in Watkins, Dene
Nation, 18587.

69. June Helm, The People of Denendeh: An Ethnohistory of the Indians of Canadas Northwest Territories (Montreal: McGillQueens Press, 2000), 265.

70. On the importance of political form to Indigenous politics in the North, see Kulchyski, Like the Sound of the Drum. More
generally, see Day, Who Is This We That Gives the Gift?, 173201; Taiaiake Alfred, Sovereignty, in Sovereignty Matters:
Locations of Contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination, ed. Joanne Barker (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 2005), 3350; Andrea Smith, Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change,
Feminist Studies 31, no. 1 (2005): 11632; and Rauna Kuokkanen, The Politics of Form and Alternative Autonomies: Indigenous
Women, Subsistence Economies, and the Gift Paradigm, paper published by the Institute on Globalization and the Human
Condition, McMaster University, 2007, 131.

71. On the IB-NWT boycott of the 8th Legislative Assembly of the NWT, see Gurston Dacks, A Choice of Futures: Politics in the
Canadian North (Toronto: Methuen, 1981), 99100; Dickerson, Whose North, 102; Abel, Drum Songs, 259; Barnaby,
Kurszewski, and Cheezie, The Political System and the Dene, 12029.

72. George Barnaby, Native Press, October 22, 1975, 12, quoted in June Helm, The People of Denendeh, 267.

73. IB-NWT, Agreement in Principle, 184.

74. On the relevance of cooperative and workplace democracy models of economic development to Indigenous societies, see
Gurston Dacks, Worker-Controlled Native Enterprises: A Vehicle for Community Development in Northern Canada, Canadian
Journal of Native Studies 3, no. 2 (1983): 289310; Lou Ketilson and Ian MacPherson, Aboriginal Co-operatives in Canada:
Current Situation and Potential for Growth (Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2001). Also see Robert Ruttan
and John TSeleie, Renewable Resource Potentials for Alternative Development in the Mackenzie River Region, report
prepared for the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT and Metis Association of the NWT, 1976.

75. Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, Annual Report, 1975 (Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Indian Brotherhood of the
Northwest Territories, 1975), 2425.

76. The conversation occurred via mail between a representative for the Kahnawake Sub-Office and then Vice President of the IBNWT, Richard Nerysoo. The letter was included as part of an information package compiled in 1977 by the NWT Legislative
Assembly to generate public concern over the radical nature of the Dene self-determination movement. Also included in the
package was a list of reading materials that the then IB-NWT community development program director, Georges Erasmus,
suggested might be useful in constructing a development philosophy for the Dene Nation. The list of readings included, among
others, Frantz Fanons Wretched of the Earth, Paulo Freires Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Albert Memmis The Colonizer and
the Colonized, and Regis Debrays Revolution in the Revolution. According to Erasmus, these alternative sources on
development were to supplement research and perspectives drawn from the communities: Many alternatives must be looked at,
wrote Erasmus in a memo addressed to Dene fieldworkers, especially the example of our culture, the approach to development
and distribution of material and ownership that our forefathers took. We may wish to keep some aspects of the old way in this
industrial era. Georges Erasmus became president of the IB-NWT the following year (in 1976) and served in this capacity until
1983. Information package on file with author and can be found in the Price of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife

77. Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, Annual Report, 1975, 25.

78. Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, A Proposal to the Government and People of Canada, 184.

79. Ibid., 187.

80. Abel, Drum Songs, 254.

81. Judd Buchanan, quoted in Martin OMalley, Past and Future Land: An Account of the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie
Valley Pipeline (Toronto: Peter Martin Associates Limited, 1976), 98.

82. Harold Cardinal, The Rebirth of Canadas Indians (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1977), 15.

83. Ted Byfield, Wah-Shee and the Left: A Tale of the Territories, Saint Johns Edmonton Report 4, no. 24, May 23, 1977, quoted
in Peter Puxley, A Model of Engagement: Reflections of the 25th Anniversary of the Berger Report (Ottawa: Canadian Policy
Research Network, 2002), 9.

84. Stuart Demelt, quoted in OMalley, Past and Future Land, 2930.

85. Government of the Northwest Territories, Youve Heard from the Radical Few about Canadas North (pamphlet), quoted in
Kenneth Coates and Judith Powell, The Modern North: People, Politics and the Rejection of Colonialism (Toronto: James
Lorimer and Company, 1989), 112.

86. IB-NWT, The FBI War Game and the NWT, Native Press, November 12, 1976, 1, 8. This information was obtained by the
IB-NWT from a report made by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program

87. Dene Nation, Denendeh, 29.

88. Coates and Powell, The Modern North, 113.

89. Government of the Northwest Territories, Priorities for the North: A Submission to the Honourable Warren Allmand, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in Keith and Wright, Northern Transitions, 2:25964.

90. Ibid., 260, 262. The legislative assembly even went as far as to irresponsibly suggest that Thomas Bergers recommendations
would amount to the establishment of an apartheid regime in northern Canada: These same people (i.e., the Dene and their
supporters) think that much of the territories should be converted into racial states along native lines. Like Mr. Thomas Berger. If
youre for what he seems to believe, then youve got to support something that has always been abhorrent to Canadians and
violates our historyseparating people according to race. Frankly, support Mr. Berger and you have to support South Africa and
its policy of apartheidthe separate development for each of its founding races. Quoted in Free South Africa Committee, Dene
Nation: Apartheid? (Edmonton: Pamphlet published by the Free South Africa Committee, University of Alberta, 1977).

91. Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, Metro Proposal, in Keith and Wright, Northern Transitions, 2:26566.

92. Ibid., 265.

93. Ibid., 266.

94. Government of the Northwest Territories, Priorities for the North, 25962.

95. Office of the Prime Minister, Political Development in the Northwest Territories, in Keith and Wright, Northern Transitions,

96. Office of the Prime Minister, Special Government Representative for Constitutional Development in the Northwest Territories,
in Keith and Wright, Northern Transitions, 2:275.

97. Office of the Prime Minister, Political Development, 280.

98. Ibid., 279.

99. Somewhat tellingly, the federal government would immediately go on to qualify this assertion by stating that it would not sanction
racially determined political structures unless this meant the establishment of reserves under the Indian Act (ibid., 280).

100. Office of the Prime Minister, Special Government Representative, 275.

101. Peter Russell, An Analysis of Prime Minister Trudeaus Paper on Political Development in the Northwest Territories, in Keith
and Wright, Northern Transitions, 2:297.

102. Government of the Northwest Territories, Priorities for the North, 262.

103. Ibid., 263.

104. Office of the Prime Minister, Political Development, 278.

105. Dene Nation and Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, Public Government for the People of the North
(Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Dene Nation and Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, 1981), 3.

106. Ibid., 7.

107. Ibid., 13.

108. Ibid., 13, 2123.

109. Ibid., 17.

110. Ibid., 910.

111. Ibid., 9.

112. Ibid., 11.

113. Dene Nation, Denendeh, 42.

114. Aboriginal Rights and Constitutional Development Secretariat, Discussion Paper on the Denendeh Government Proposal,
working paper prepared for the Special Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Constitutional Development, September 1982,

115. Dene Nation, Denendeh, 42.

116. Abel, Drum Songs, 25657.

117. Dene/Metis Claims Secretariat, The Dene/Metis Land Claim: Information Package, (Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Produced by the
Dene/Metis Negotiations Secretariat, 1986), 8.

118. Ibid. Following the leadership change in 1983 from Georges Erasmus to Stephen Kakfwi, the Dene Nation made a strategic
decision to pursue the recognition of political rights though the territorial government and land issues through the negotiation of the
land claim. See Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 87.

119. Marina Devine, The Dene Nation: Coming Full Circle, Arctic Circle, March/April 1992, 15.

120. Ibid.; Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 9497. These authors discuss the fragmentation of the Dene Nation and unified
nationalist movement.

121. For critical discussions of the newly proposed MPG, see: Petr Cizek, Northern Pipe Dreams and Nightmares: Return of the
Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, Canadian Dimension (May/June 2005):; Erin Freeland
and Jessica Simpson, Petro-Capitalism and the Fight for Indigenous Culture in Denendeh, New Socialist 62 (Fall 2007): 911.

122. Frank TSeleie quoted in Ed Struzik, Things Change in 25 Years Says Anti-Pipeline Activist: Frank TSeleie Is Now in Favor
of a Pipeline along the Mackenzie, Edmonton Journal, July 7, 2001.

123. Stuart Kirsch, Indigenous Movements and the Risks of Counter Globalization, American Ethnologist 34, no. 2 (2007): 304.

124. Todd Gordon, Canada, Empire and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, Socialist Studies 2, no. 1 (2006): 4775.

125. Paul Nadasdy, Property and Aboriginal Land Claims in the Canadian Subarctic: Some Theoretical Considerations, American
Anthropologist 104, no. 1 (2002): 248.

3. Essentialism and the Gendered Politics of Aboriginal Self-Government

1. Seyla Benhabib, The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era (Princeton: Princeton University Press,

2. See, in particular, James Clifford, Taking Identity Politics Seriously, in Without Guarantees: In Honor of Stuart Hall, ed. Paul
Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg, and Angel McRobbie, 94112 (London: Verso, 2000); Arif Dirlik, Postmodernitys Histories: The
Past as Legacy and Project (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000); Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000); Nikolas Kompridis, Normativizing Hybridity/Neutralizing Culture, Political Theory 33,
no. 3 (2005): 31843; Bonita Lawrence, Real Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous
Nationalism (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004); David Scott, The Social Construction of Postcolonial
Studies, in Postcolonial Studies and Beyond, ed. Ania Loomba, Suvir Kaul, Matti Bunzl, Antoinette Burton, and Jed Esty, 385
400 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005); Peter Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum: Aboriginal Cultural Politics in
Denendeh and Nunavut (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2006).

3. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 8 (emphasis added).

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., ix.

6. Ibid., 78, 4.

7. Terence Turner, Anthropology and Multiculturalism: What Is Anthropology That Multiculturalists Should Be Mindful of It?,
Cultural Anthropology 8, no. 4 (1993): 412, quoted in Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 4.

8. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 68.

9. Ibid., 184.

10. Ibid., 184, ix.

11. Ibid., 7.

12. Ibid., ix.

13. Ibid., 19.

14. Ibid., 20.

15. Ibid. 184.

16. Ibid., 54. For a comprehensive discussion of the gendered character of Canadian Indian policy, to which I am much indebted, see
Lawrence, Real Indians and Others; Joanne Barker, Gender, Sovereignty, and the Discourse of Rights in Native Womens
Activism, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 7, no. 1 (2006): 12761. Also see Kathleen Jamieson, Indian Women
and the Law in Canada: Citizens Minus (Ottawa: Advisory Council on the Status of Women and Indian Rights for Indian
Women, 1978).

17. Megan Furi and Jill Wherrett, Indian Status and Band Membership Issues (Ottawa: Parliamentary Research Branch, 2003), 2.

18. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 50.

19. Ibid., 5455.

20. Barker, Gender, Sovereignty and the Discourse of Rights in Native Womens Activism, 13536.

21. Re: Lavell and Attorney-General of Canada (1971), 22 DLR (3d) 182.

22. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 56.

23. Barker, Gender, Sovereignty, and the Discourse of Rights in Native Womens Activism, 137.

24. Ibid.

25. Kathleen Jamieson, Sex Discrimination and the Indian Act, in Arduous Journey: Canadian Indians and Decolonization, ed.
J. R. Ponting (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986), 12627.

26. Attorney-General of Canada v. Lavell; Isaac v. Bedard (1973), 38 DLR (3d), 481 (emphasis added).

27. Ibid.

28. For an authoritative account of this struggle, see Janet Silman, ed., Enough Is Enough: Aboriginal Women Speak Out
(Toronto: The Womens Press, 1987).

29. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 57.

30. Barker, Gender, Sovereignty, and the Discourse of Rights in Native Womens Activism, 13839.

31. Ibid., 139.

32. UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted and
opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of December 16, 1966. Available
online at

33. Janet Silman, Enough Is Enough: Aboriginal Women Speak Out, 14972.

34. Sandra Lovelace v. Canada, Communication N0. R. 6/34 (29 December 1977), UN Doc. Supp. No. 40 (A/36/40) at 166

35. Joyce Green, Balancing Strategies: Aboriginal Women and Constitutional Rights in Canada, in Women Making Constitutions:
New Perspectives and Comparative Perspectives, ed. Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Vivian Hart (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2004), 47.

36. Joyce Green, Canaries in the Mines of Citizenship: Indian Women in Canada, Canadian Journal of Political Science 34, no.
4 (2001): 728.

37. Barker, Gender, Sovereignty, and the Discourse of Rights in Native Womens Activism, 141.

38. Bryan Schwartz, First Principles, Second Thoughts: Aboriginal Peoples, Constitutional Reform and Canadian Statecraft
(Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1986), 337.

39. For a discussion of Aboriginal participation in the Charlottetown negotiations, see Peter H. Russell, Constitutional Odyssey:
Can Canada Become a Sovereign People?, 3rd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 154227.

40. Native Womens Association of Canada, Aboriginal Women, Self-Government and the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms (Ottawa: Published by the Native Womens Association of Canada, 1991), 1718.

41. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 69.

42. The Assembly of First Nations, quoted in Menno Boldt and J. Anthony Long, Tribal Philosophies and the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, in The Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Rights (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985),

43. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 19.

44. The following interpretation of Benhabibs critique of essentialism is indebted to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negris analysis of
Homi Bhabhas postcolonial criticism (Hardt and Negri, Empire, 14346). See also Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture
(New York: Routledge, 1994).

45. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 106; also see Monique Deveau, A Deliberative Approach to Conflicts of Culture, Political
Theory 31, no. 6 (2003): 780807.

46. Or, stated the other way around: when cultural obligations are conferred on individuals without these deliberative mechanisms in
place, then the obligations that ensue can only be regarded as an imposition. In such cases, any defense of cultural traditions will
be regarded as a [potential] source of coercive power applied against an unwilling membership (Tim Schouls, Shifting
Boundaries: Aboriginal Identity, Pluralist Theory, and the Politics of Self-Government [Vancouver: University of British
Columbia Press, 2003], 106).

47. Hardt and Negri, Empire, 13750.

48. Ibid., 139.

49. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 2.

50. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Human Rights and Indigenous Issues: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples: Mission to Canada, UN Commission of Human Rights report,
2004, 2.

51. Patricia Monture-Angus, Thunder in My Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks (Halifax: Fernwood, 1995), 184; Lawrence, Real
Indians and Others, 6484.

52. Peter Kulchyski, Human Rights or Aboriginal Rights? Briarpatch Magazine, July 1, 2011, 3.

53. The Assembly of First Nations, quoted in Menno Boldt and J. Anthony Long, Tribal Philosophies and the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, in The Quest for Justice, 171.

54. Take, for instance, Homi Bhabhas suggestion that by highlighting the fractured and in-between spaces of social identities we
open up the very possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy. See
Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 4. For a discussion of both the transformative possibilities and limits of Bhabhas project, see,
Hardt and Negri, Empire, 13759.

55. Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj iek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left
(London: Verso, 2000), 1415.

56. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 8.

57. Ibid., x, 1920, 184.

58. Butler, Laclau and iek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality, 15.

59. Duncan Ivison, Deliberative Democracy and the Politics of Reconciliation, in Deliberative Democracy in Practice, ed. David
Kahane, Daniel Weinstock, Dominque Leydet, and Melissa Williams, 11537 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press,

60. Dirlik, Postmodernitys Histories, 207.

61. Arif Dirlik and Roxann Prazniak, Introduction: Cultural Identity and the Politics of Place, in Places and Politics in an Age of
Globalization, ed. Arif Dirlik and Roxann Prazniak (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 9.

62. Ibid.

63. Benhabib, The Claims of Culture, 185.

64. Ibid.

65. James Tully, Aboriginal Peoples: Negotiating Reconciliation, in Canadian Politics, ed. James Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon,
3rd ed. (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2000), 419. Also see Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, vol. 1: ch. 6.

66. For a survey of literature in the Canadian context, see Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness; Tully, Aboriginal Peoples:
Negotiating Reconciliation; Michael Asch, From Calder to Van der Peet: Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian Law, in
Indigenous Peoples Rights in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, ed. Paul Havemann (Auckland: Oxford University Press,
1997), 42846; Patrick Macklem, Indigenous Difference and the Constitution of Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto
Press, 2001). In the American context, see Robert A. Williams, The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The
Discourses of Conquest (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). In the Australian context, see Henry Reynolds, Aboriginal
Sovereignty: Three Nations, One Australia? (Sydney: Allan and Unwin Publishers, 1996).

67. Michael Asch, Self-Government in the New Millennium, in Nation-to-Nation: Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Future of
Canada, ed. John Bird, Lorraine Land, and Murray MacAdam, 6573 (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 2002); and Asch, From
Calder to Van der Peet.

68. Patricia Monture, Thunder in My Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks (Halifax: Fernwood Press, 1995).

69. Ibid., 175.

70. Wendy Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 173.

71. Sarah Hunt, More Than a Poster Campaign: Redefining Colonial Violence, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and
Society Blog, February 14, 2013,

72. Ibid.

73. Dory Nason, We Hold Our Hands Up: On Indigenous Womens Love and Resistance, Decolonization: Indigeneity,
Education and Society Blog, February 12, 2013,

74. Day, Multiculturalism and the History of Canadian Diversity, 222.

75. Dirlik, Postmodernitys Histories, 205.

76. Stuart Hall, The Work of Representation, in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, ed. Stuart
Hall (London: Sage Publications, 1997), 44.

77. Jeffrey Tobin, Cultural Construction and Native Nationalism, Boundary 2 22, no. 2 (1994): 131.

4. Seeing Red

1. Prime Minister of Canada, Statement and Apology (Ottawa: Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 2008). Online as Prime
Minister Harper Offers Full Apology on Behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools System, Prime Minister of
Canada website, June 11, 2008,

2. Courtney Young, Canada and the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: Transitional Justice for Indigenous People in a NonTransitional Society, in Identities in Transition: Challenges for Transitional Justice in Divided Societies, ed. Paige Arthur
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 21750; Native Groups Shut out of Residential School Apology, Canadian
Press, June 5, 2008; Aboriginal Leaders Hail Historic Apology, Ottawa Citizen, June 11, 2008.

3. David Ljunggren, Every G20 Nation Wants to Be Canada, Insists PM, Reuters, September 25, 2009.

4. Stephen Hui, Sean Atleo Criticizes Stephen Harper over No History of Colonialism Remark, Georgia Straight, October 2,

5. Jeff Corntassel and Cindy Holder, Whos Sorry Now? Government Apologies, Truth Commissions and Indigenous SelfDetermination in Australia, Canada, Guatemala, and Peru, Human Rights Review 9, no. 4 (2008): 46589.

6. For a genealogy of the emergence of the field of transitional justice, see Paige Arthur, How Transitions Reshaped Human
Rights: A Conceptual History of Transitional Justice, Human Rights Quarterly 31 (2009): 32167. For a discussion of the
application of transitional justice concepts and mechanisms to the context of Indigenousstate relations, see C. Young, Canada
and the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools; Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir, eds., The Politics of Reconciliation in
Multicultural Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); Damian Short, Reconciliation and Colonial Power:
Indigenous Rights in Australia (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishers, 2008).

7. Andrew Schaap, Political Reconciliation through a Struggle for Recognition?, Social and Legal Studies 13, no. 4 (2004): 523
(emphasis added).

8. For example, see Axel Honneth, Integrity and Disrespect: Principles of the Concept of Morality Based on the Theory of
Recognition, Political Theory 20, no. 2 (1992): 187201. For a discussion of Honneths approach, see Fraser and Honneth,
Redistribution or Recognition? Indigenous people often equate this form of reconciliation with individual and collective

9. Trudy Govier, Forgiveness and Revenge (New York: Routledge, 2002), viii.

10. Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir, Introduction: Struggles for Inclusion and Reconciliation in Modern Democracies, in Kymlicka
and Bashir, The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies, 124.

11. Trudy Govier, Forgiveness and Revenge; Govier, Acknowledgement and Truth Commissions: The Case of Canada, in
Philosophy and Aboriginal Rights: Critical Dialogues, ed. Sandra Tomsons and Lorraine Mayer (Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford
University Press, 2013). Also see Thomas Brudholm, Resentments Virtue: Jean Amry and the Refusal to Forgive
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008).

12. Oxford English Dictionary quoted in Dale Turner, Aboriginal Relations in Canada: The Importance of Political Reconciliation,
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Blog, Equity Matters, May 3, 2011,

13. Brudholm, Resentments Virtue, 3.

14. Jean Amry, At the Minds Limit: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities, trans. Sidney and Stella
Rosenfeld (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980). Also see, Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce
Homo, ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1989).

15. Brudholm, Resentments Virtue, 4.

16. Ibid., 45.

17. I say explicitly here because achieving reconciliation in the three senses noted above always implicitly informed the turn to
recognition politics that began in the early 1970s. Also, I borrow the term nontransitional from Courtney Young, Transitional
Justice for Indigenous People in a Non-Transitional Society, Research Brief for Identities in Transition, International Center for
Transitional Justice, October 2009.

18. Jean Amry, The Birth of Man from the Spirit of Violence: Frantz Fanon the Revolutionary, Wasafiri 44 (2005): 14.

19. Thomas Brudholm, Revisiting Resentments: Jean Amry and the Dark Side of Forgiveness, Journal of Human Rights 5, no. 1
(2006): 726; Robert Solomon, Living with Nietzsche: What the Great Immoralist Has to Teach Us (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2003); Alice MacLachlan, Unreasonable Resentments, Journal of Social Philosophy 41, no. 4 (2010): 422

20. See under resentment, (emphasis added).

21. On the political significance of anger in the face of gendered and racial oppression, I have learned much from the foundational
analysis in Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger, Women Studies Quarterly 25, nos. 1/2 (1997): 27885. Also see the fierce poem
by queer Menominee poet Chrystos, Theyre Always Telling Me Im Too Angry, Fugitive Colors (Cleveland: Cleveland State
University Poetry Center, 1995), 44.

22. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (New York: Penguin Modern Classics, 2010); John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005); Solomon, Living with Nietzsche; Jeffrie Murphy, Getting Even:
Forgiveness and Its Limits (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); MacLachlan, Unreasonable Resentments; Brudholm,
Resentments Virtue.

23. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), 533.

24. Murphy, Getting Even.

25. MacLachlan, Unreasonable Resentments, 42223.

26. Brudholm, Resentments Virtue, 910.

27. For example, in the context of post-Holocaust demands for reconciliation, Jean Amry wrote: there seems to be general
agreement that the final say on resentment is that of Friedrich Nietzsche (Amry, At the Minds Limit, 67).

28. Ibid., 68.

29. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ed. Adrian Del Caro and Robert Pipin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2006), 111.

30. Ibid. (emphasis added).

31. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, 230.

32. Ibid, 3839, 5758.

33. Richard Wagamese, Returning to Harmony, in Response, Responsibility and Renewal, ed. Aboriginal Healing Foundation
(Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series, 2009), 144.

34. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 89.

35. Jean-Paul Sartre, preface to Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, liv.

36. See Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1999).

37. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 27.

38. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Richard Philcox (Boston: Grove Press, 2008), 18.

39. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 15 (emphasis added).

40. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), xiiixiv.

41. The arguments of both Hegel and early Marx are paradigmatic of the former view.

42. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1516, 94.

43. Ibid., 4, 5, 16, 89.

44. Ibid., 5. On envy and its close relationship to resentment, see Marguerite La Caze, Envy and Resentment, Philosophical
Explorations: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Mind and Action 4, no. 1 (2007): 14147.

45. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 89.

46. Ibid., 31.

47. Amry, The Birth of Man from the Spirit of Violence, 15.

48. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 31.

49. Ibid., 8.

50. Ibid., 89.

51. In the following chapter I explore the limitations of Fanons views on the instrumentality of Indigenous cultural politics in more

52. Georges Erasmus, Twenty Years of Disappointed Hopes, in Drum Beat: Anger and Renewal in Indian Country, ed. Boyce
Richardson (Ottawa: Summerhill Press with the Assembly of First Nations, 1990), 2428.

53. Newfoundland also failed to ratify the deal.

54. Kiera Ladner and Leanne Simpson, eds., This Is an Honour Song: Twenty Years since the Barricades (Winnipeg: Arbeiter
Ring Press, 2010), 12.

55. Linda Pertusati, In Defence of Mohawk Land: Ethno Political Conflict in Native North America (New York: State
University of New York Press, 1997), 1012.

56. Oka Costs Natives Canadas Sympathy, Toronto Star, November 27, 1990, A9.

57. For examples of such representations, see Mark Kennedy, PM Brands Warriors Terrorists, Calls for Surrender, Ottawa
Citizen, August 29, 1990, A2; Army Moving In on Mohawks; No One above the Law PM Says of Warriors, Edmonton
Journal, August 29, 1990, A1; William Johnson, Oka Symbolizes Meech Aftermath, Edmonton Journal, July 24, 1990, A7;
Judge Recognizes Native Rage as Oka Standoff Leaders Jailed, Toronto Star, February 20, 1992, A13; Thousands of Okas
Loom, The Gazette, September 28, 1990, A4. For critical analyses of such representations, see James Winter, Common Cents:
The Medias Portrayal of the Gulf War and Other Issues (Montreal: Black Roade Press, 1992); Gail Valaskakis, Rights and
Warriors, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 25, no. 1 (1994): 6072.

58. Boyce Richardson, ed., Drumbeat: Anger and Renewal in Indian Country (Ottawa: Summerhill Press and the Assembly of
First Nations, 1989).

59. Daniel Ashini, David Confronts Goliath: The Innu of Ungava versus the NATO Alliance, in Richardson, Drumbeat, 4372;
Marie Wadden, Nitassinan: The Innu Struggle to Reclaim Their Homeland (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1991).

60. Ward Churchill, Last Stand at Lubicon Lake, Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide,
Ecocide and Colonization (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 1999), 190238; Dawn Martin-Hill, The Lubicon Lake Nation:
Indigenous Knowledge and Power (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008).

61. See Nicholas Blomley, Shut the Province Down: First Nations Blockades in British Columbia, 18841995, BC Studies 111
(1996): 535.

62. Jean-Maurice Matchewan, Mitchikanibikonginik Algonquins of Barrier Lake: Our Long Battle to Create a Sustainable Future,
in Richardson, Drumbeat, 13968.

63. Bruce W. Hodgins, Ute Lischke, and David McNab, eds., Blockades and Resistance: Studies in Action and Peace at the
Temegami Blockades of 198990 (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2003).

64. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 15.

65. Act or Face Threat of Violence, Native Leader Warns Ottawa, Toronto Star, June 1, 1988, A1.

66. In Commonwealth countries a royal commission is a major commission of inquiry into an issue of perceived national public

67. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 5 vols. (Ottawa: Minister
of Supply and Services, 1996); available online at and

68. Mary Hurley and Jill Wherrett, The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (Ottawa: Parliamentary
Information and Research Service, 2000), 2.

69. See in particular, Kiera Ladner, Negotiated Inferiority: The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Vision of a Renewed
Relationship, American Review of Canadian Studies 31, nos. 1/2 (2001): 24164.

70. Trudy Grovier, Acknowledgement and Truth Commissions: The Case of Canada, in Tomsons and Mayer, Philosophy and
Aboriginal Rights, 44.

71. Alfred, Wasse, 53.

72. Taiaiake Alfred, Restitution is the Real Pathway for Justice of Indigenous Peoples, in Aboriginal Healing Foundation,
Response, Responsibility, and Renewal, 17987; Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government, Social
Suffering, and Aboriginal Policy in Canada (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009). These two texts embody
both of these criticisms.

73. Irlbacher-Fox, Finding Dahshaa, 33.

74. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 89.

75. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gathering Strength: Canadas Aboriginal Action Plan (Ottawa:
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1998).

76. Ibid., 1.

77. Irlbacher-Fox, Finding Dahshaa, 1068.

78. Sam McKegney, From Trickster Poetics to Transgressive Politics: Substantiating Survivance in Tomson Highways Kiss of the
Fur Queen, Studies in American Indian Literatures 17, no. 4 (2005): 85.

79. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development website, Notes for an Address by the Honourable Jane Stewart,
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, on the Occasion of the Unveiling of Gathering StrengthCanadas
Aboriginal Action Plan, Ottawa, January 7, 1998,

80. Aboriginal Healing Foundation, FAQs,

81. Alfred, Wasse, 152.

82. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gathering Strength, 11.

83. Bonita Lawrence, Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario (Vancouver: University of
British Columbia Press, 2012), 71. Lawrence offers a discussion of alternative comprehensive claim options.

84. Kulchyski, Like the Sound of a Drum, 100.

85. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development website, The Government of Canadas Approach to Implementation
of the Inherent Right and Negotiation of Self-Government (Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development,
1995), (emphasis added).

86. Michael Asch, Self-Government in the New Millennium, in Nation to Nation: Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Future of
Canada, ed. John Bird, Lorraine Land, and Murray MacAdam (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 2002), 70.

87. R. v. Van der Peet, (1996), Supreme Court Ruling, 507, 539.

88. Lisa Dufraimont, From Regulation to Recolonization: Justifiable Infringement of Aboriginal Rights at the Supreme Court of
Canada, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, 58, no. 1 (2000): 130.

89. Prime Minister of Canada, Statement and Apology.

90. Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native, 388.

91. Ibid.

92. Jefferie Murphy, Moral Epistemology, the Retributive Emotions, and the Clumsy Moral Philosophy of Jesus Christ, in The
Passions of Law, ed. S. Bandes, 152, quoted in Brudholm, Revisiting Resentments, 13.

93. Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada
(Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010), 7.

94. Alfred, Restitution Is the Real Pathway to Justice for Indigenous Peoples, 18284.

5. The Plunge into the Chasm of the Past

1. Sonia Kruks, Retrieving Experience: Subjectivity and Recognition in Feminist Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
2001), 88; Azzedine Haddour, Sartre and Fanon on Negritude and Political Empowerment, Sartre Studies International 2, no. 1
(2005): 286301.

2. David Caute, Fanon (New York: Fontana, 1970), 2131; Irene Grendzier, Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study (New York: Vintage,
1974), 44; David Macey, Frantz Fanon: A Life (London: Granta, 2000), 186.

3. Jock McCullock, Black Soul, White Artifact: Fanons Clinical Psychology and Social Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003), 36.

4. I attribute this third interpretation to Nigel Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (Cambridge: Polity, 2003); Robert
Benasconi, The Assumption of Negritude: Aim Csaire, Frantz Fanon, and the Vicious Circle of Racial Politics, Parallax 8, no.
2 (2002): 6983; Lou Turner, Marginal Note on Minority Questions in the Thought of Frantz Fanon, Philosophia Africana 4,
no. 2 (2001): 3746 ; and to a slightly lesser extent, Anita Parry, Resistance Theory/Theorizing Resistance or Two Cheers for
Nativism, in Rethinking Fanon: The Continuing Dialogue, ed. Nigel Gibson, 21550 (Amherst, Mass.: Humanity Books,
1999). Within this third approach authors tend to situate Fanon more in line with the subjectivist conception of negritude
advanced by Csairewhich conceptualizes black subjectivity as a construction representing the colonized condition and its
refusalas opposed to the objectivist notion promulgated by Senghor, where negritude is aligned with a biologically
determined notion of blackness as a distinctive mode of being and collective identity (Parry, Resistance Theory/Theorizing
Resistance, 230).

5. Katherine Gines, Fanon and Sartre 50 Years Later: To Retain or Reject the Concept of Race, Sartre Studies International 9,
no. 2 (2003): 5570.

6. Kruks, Retrieving Experience, 98. Also see Azzedine Haddour, Sartre and Fanon on Negritude and Political Empowerment,
Sartre Studies International 2, no. 1 (2005): 286301.

7. Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (New York: Schocken Books, 1974).

8. Ibid., 69, 143.

9. Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Washington Square Press, 1956), 32429.

10. Ibid., 362.

11. Ibid., 340400, 47174.

12. Sonia Kruks, Sartre, Fanon and Identity Politics, in Fanon: A Critical Reader, ed. Lewis Gordon, T. Denean SharpleyWhiting, and Renee T. White (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996), 124.

13. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 473. For a helpful discussion of Sartres pessimistic reading of Hegel, see Majid Yar,
Recognition and the Politics of Human(e) Desire, Theory, Culture and Society 18, nos. 23 (2001): 5862. Also see Axel
Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), 14559;
Robert Williams, Hegels Ethics of Recognition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 37179.

14. Yar, Recognition and the Politics of Human(e) Desire, 6061.

15. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 475. For a less pessimistic account of Sartres theory of recognition, see T. Storm Heter,
Authenticity and Others: Sartres Ethics of Recognition, Sartre Studies International 12, no. 2 (2006): 1743. Sartre scholars
generally agree that Sartre eventually sought to establish the foundation for an existential ethics that recognizes, within the frame
of authenticity, the freedom of others. To act authentically would under this formulation require that one respect the freedom of
others. The beginnings of Sartres existential ethics are sketched in Notebooks for an Ethics (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1992).

16. Ibid. Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew, 79.

17. Ibid., 5960.

18. Ibid., 92.

19. Ibid., 94.

20. Ibid., 90135.

21. Ibid., 93.

22. Ibid., 9495.

23. Ibid., 137.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid., 138 (emphasis added).

26. Ibid., 141.

27. Ibid., 148.

28. Ibid., 149.

29. Jean-Paul Sartre, Black Orpheus, in Race, ed. Robert Bernasconi (New York: Blackwell, 2001), 11542.

30. Ibid., 118.

31. Ibid.

32. Ibid.

33. This distinction in Marx shapes Sartres views on the role played by negritude in the struggle against capitalist imperialism. The
following is the most commonly cited passage by Marx that makes this distinction: The economic conditions have in the first place
transformed the mass of the people of the country into wage-workers. The domination of capital has created for this mass of
people a common situation with common interests. This mass is already a class, as opposed to capital, but not yet for itself. In the
struggle . . . this mass unites, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests which it defends are the interests of its class.
But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle (Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy [New York: Prometheus
Books, 1995], 18889). Whether or not it is correct to read this distinction into Marx is a matter of debate. Edward Andrew,
Class in Itself and Class against Capital: Karl Marx and His Classifiers, Canadian Journal of Political Science 16, no. 3
(1983): 57784.

34. Sartre, Black Orpheus, 119.

35. Ibid.

36. Aim Csaire and Ren Depestre , An Interview with Aim Csaire, in Aim Csaire: Discourse on Colonialism (New
York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), 8990.

37. Sartre, Black Orpheus, 137.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid. (emphasis added).

40. Ibid., 89, 95, 97.

41. Ibid., 89, 92.

42. Ibid., 95 (emphasis added).

43. Ibid., 90.

44. Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew, 93. For a discussion of the similarities between Sartre and Fanon on this matter, see Kruks, Sartre,
Fanon and Identity Politics, 12829.

45. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 42, 157, 93.

46. Ibid., 45.

47. This is the main argument that Fanon develops in the chapter The So-Called Dependency Complex of the Colonized, in Black
Skin, White Masks. Here Fanon takes aim at Octave Mannonis Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of the Colonized
(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), in which Mannoni suggests that the tendency to accept colonial relations of
dependency exhibited by some non-Western societies vis--vis their colonizers reflects an inherent or natural disposition of
certain non-Western peoples to accept imposed forms of authority and rule.

48. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 188.

49. Ibid., 157. Practices of desubjectification that tactically deploy reverse discourses as a means of disrupting a hegemonic field
of power is discussed by Michel Foucault in The History of Sexuality (New York: Vintage, 1990), 1:101. The transformative
potential of reverse discourse in the context of anticolonial nativist movements is critically endorsed by Benita Parry in
Resistance Theory/Theorizing Resistance, 22150.

50. Robert Benasconi, Eliminating the Cycle of Violence: The Place of a Dying Colonialism within Fanons Revolutionary Thought,
Philosophia Africana 4, no. 2 (2001): 19.

51. Gibson, Fanon, 81.

52. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 89119.

53. Ibid., 95 (emphasis added).

54. Ibid. (emphasis added).

55. Ibid., 109.

56. Ibid., 110.

57. Ibid., 111.

58. Ibid., 112

59. Ibid., 117.

60. Ibid., xviii, 113.

61. Ibid., 95.

62. Ibid., 19, 28, 132, 197.

63. Frantz Fanon, Algeria Unveiled, in The Fanon Reader, ed. Azzedine Haddour (London: Pluto Press, 2006), 108.

64. McCullock, Black Soul, White Artifact.

65. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 115.

66. Lopold Senghor, Negritude and Modernity or Negritude as a Humanism for the Twentieth Century, in Race, ed. Robert
Benasconi (New York: Blackwell, 2001), 144.

67. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 150 (emphasis added).

68. Ibid., 10111.

69. Ibid., xviii.

70. Ibid., 199.

71. Gibson, Fanon, 7378. Fanons main charge was that Sartre had ignored or downplayed the importance of the experiential
worth of negritude for blacks living under the gaze of colonial racism. Sartre had intellectualized the lived experience of
blackness, and in doing so destroyed Black zeal and impulsiveness. See Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 11314. In
this sense, Nigel Gibson suggests that Fanons main criticism of Sartre was that he had largely abandoned the insights of his
phenomenological existentialism for a crude Marxist determinism.

72. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 80.

73. Ibid., 201.

74. Ibid., 206.

75. Frantz Fanon, West Indians and Africans, in Toward the African Revolution (Boston: Grove Press, 1967), 18.

76. Ibid., 17.

77. Ibid. (emphasis added).

78. Ibid., 2122.

79. Ibid., 23, 26.

80. Ibid.

81. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 63.

82. Frantz Fanon, Racism and Culture, Toward the African Revolution (Boston: Grove Press, 1967), 3144. This essay was
originally presented at the Paris meeting of the First Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in September 1956.

83. Ibid., 32. For culturalization of racism, see Sharene Razack, Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race and Culture in
Courtrooms and Classrooms (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 60; Philomena Essed, Understanding Everyday
Racism: An Interdisciplinary Theory (London: Sage Publishing, 1991), 14.

84. Fanon, Racism and Culture, 32.

85. Fanon does not mean to suggest that racisms crude biological variant has disappeared, however. To be sure, as Fanon
continues, he points out that during his day organizations as prominent as the World Health Organization were still conducting
studies that advanced scientific arguments in support of a physiological lobotomy of the African Negro. What Fanon is
attempting to do, rather, is highlight the capacity of racial discourse to modify itself over time and context. In the early days of
pure exploitation, such as slavery, the biological articulation of racism served to justify the domination and exploitation of blacks
just fine. But with the gradual advance of scientific and other evidence undermining assumptions about race-based inferiority and
superiority, it became increasingly difficult to defend the exploitation of blacks in biological terms. As a result, such affirmations,
crude and massive, [gave] way to a more refined argument which established a new means to camouflage the techniques by
which man is exploited. Racisms turn to culture provided this camouflage. See Fanon, Racism and Culture, 32.

86. Ibid., 34.

87. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 158.

88. Ibid., 154.

89. Fanon, Racism and Culture, 148.

90. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 170.

91. Gibson, Fanon, ch. 6; Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 17879 (emphasis added).

92. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 43.

93. Leanne Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence
(Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 2011), 32.


1. See my discussion of the work of Taiaiake Alfred and Leanne Simpson below.

2. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 168 (emphasis added).

3. Ibid., 15960.

4. See in particular, Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness; Alfred, Wasse; Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back.

5. Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness, xiii; Alfred, Wasse, 19. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 17.

6. Alfred, Wasse, 19.

7. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 17.

8. Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness, 5 (emphasis added).

9. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 1718.

10. Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness, xviii, 66, 8088.

11. Ibid., xiii.

12. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 22.

13. Ibid.

14. Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness, xiii (emphasis added).

15. Ibid., xviii.

16. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 51.

17. Ibid.

18. Alfred, Peace, Power Righteousness, xviii.

19. Alfred, Wasse, 22.

20. Ibid., 23.

21. Ibid., 84.

22. Chris Finley, Decolonizing the Queer Native Body (and Recovering the Native Bull-Dyke): Bringing Sexy Back and out of
Native Studies Closet, in Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature, ed. Qwo-Li
Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, 3142 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011);
and Andrea Smith, Queer Theory and Native Studies: The Heteronormativity of Settler-Colonialism, in Qwo-Li Driskill, et al.,
Queer Indigenous Studies, 4365.

23. Leanne Simpson, Queering Resurgence: Taking on Heteropatriarchy in Indigenous Nation-Building, Mamawipawin:
Indigenous Governence and Community Based Research Space, June 1, 2012,

24. Emma LaRoque, Mtis and Feminist, in Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, ed. Joyce Green (Halifax: Fernwood,
2007), 6364.

25. Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtles Back, 6061, 1059.

26. Simpson, Queering Resurgence.

27. Alfred, Wasse, 4045.

28. Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness, 56.

29. Ibid.

30. Monture, Thunder in My Soul.

31. Alfred, Wasse, 180.

32. Government of Canada, Bill C-45 Jobs and Growth Act, December 14, 2012,

33. 9 Questions about Idle No More, CBC News, January 5, 2013,

34. The Canadian Press, First Nation blockade in Sarnia coming down, CBC News, January 2, 2013,

35. Kevin Griffin, Metro Vancouver Idle No More rallies to continue despite Harpers decision to meet native leaders, Ottawa
Citizen, January 4, 2013,

36. Christie Blachford, Inevitable Puffery and Horse Manure Surrounds Hunger Strike While Real Aboriginal Problems Forgotten,
National Post, December 27, 2012,

37. Kelly McParland, Idle No More Has Been Seized by Occupying Forces, National Post, January 17, 2013,

38. Pamela Palmater, Why We Are Idle No More, Ottawa Citizen, December 29, 2012,

39. Leanne Simpson, Fish Broth and Fasting, DividedNoMore Blog, January 16, 2013,

40. Russell Diabo, Mr. Harper, One Short Meeting Wont End Native Protests, Toronto Globe and Mail, January 11, 2013,

41. Arthur Manual, Idle No More, the Effective Voice of Indigenous Peoples: Current AFN Negotiations with Prime Minister a GoNowhere Approach, The Media Co-op, January 14, 2013,

42. Thomson Reuters, First Nation Chief threatens to Block Resource Development, Financial Post, January 10, 2013,

43. John Robson, Dont Brush off Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Sun News Straight Talk, January 13, 2013,

44. Idle No More Protesters Stall Railway Lines, Highways, CBC News, January 16, 2013,

45. Indian Country Today Media Network Staff, Chief Theresa Spence Ends Fast with 13-Point Declaration of Commitment to
First Nations, Indian Country Today, January 24, 2013,

46. Natalie Stechyson, Idle No More Movement Fizzles Out Online, Analysis Finds, Vancouver Sun, February 10, 2013,

47. Benjamin Aube, Negotiations, Not Blockades, Lead to Change, Global News, January 25, 2013,

48. Aboriginals Insist Meeting with Stephen Harper Must Fix Broken System, Calgary Herald, January 4, 2013,

49. Armina Ligaya, Less Than Half of Canadians Support the Idle No More Movement: Poll, National Post, January 21, 2013,

50. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo (New York: Vintage, 1989), 3637.

51. Ibid., 37.

52. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (2008), 197.

53. Miles Howe, Showdown in Elsipogtog: Seven Months of Shale Gas Resistance in New Brunswick, The Dominion, January 14,

54. Shiri Pasternak, The Economics of Insurgency: Thoughts on Idle No More and Critical Infrastructure, The Media Co-Op,
January 14, 2013,

55. Naomi Klein, Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Leanne Simpson, Yes Magazine, March 5, 2013,

56. Rauna Kuokkanen, Indigenous Economies, Theories of Subsistence, and Women, American Indian Quarterly 35, no. 2
(2011): 219.

57. On the relevance of cooperative and workplace democracy models of economic development to Indigenous societies, see
Gurston Dacks, Worker-Controlled Native Enterprises: A Vehicle for Community Development in Northern Canada, Canadian
Journal of Native Studies, 3, no. 2 (1983): 289310; Lou Ketilson and Ian MacPherson, Aboriginal Co-operatives in Canada:
Current Situation and Potential for Growth (Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2001). Also see Ruttan and
TSeleie, Renewable Resource Potentials for Alternative Development.

58. Kuokkanen, Indigenous Economies, Theories of Subsistence, and Women, 223.

59. Environics Institute, Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (Toronto: Published by Environics Institute, 2012), 6. Available online at

60. Jean Barman, Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver, BC Studies No. 155 (2007), 330; Amber Dean, Space,
Temporality, History: Encountering Hauntings in Vancouvers Downtown Eastside, in The West and Beyond: New Perspectives
on an Imagined Region, ed. Alvin Finkle, Sarah Carter, and Peter Fortna, 11332 (Athabasca, Alta.: Athabasca University
Press, 2010).

61. Jean Barman, Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver, 6.

62. Ibid., 67.

63. John Tobias, Protection, Civilization, Assimilation: An Outline History of Canadas Indian Policy, in Sweet Promises: A Reader
on IndianWhite Relations in Canada, ed. J. R. Miller (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), 136.

64. Barman, Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver, 7.

65. Sherene Razack, Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George, in Race, Space and the
Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, ed. Sherene Razack (Halifax: Between the Lines, 2002), 129.

66. Ibid.

67. Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly, Gentrification (New York: Routledge, 2008).

68. Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City (New York: Routledge, 1996); Nicholas
Blomley, Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property (New York: Routledge, 2004); and Dean, Space,
Temporality, History.

69. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 246.

70. Ibid., 232.

71. Ibid., 23334.

72. Ibid., 233.

73. Ibid., 246.

74. Dory Nason, We Hold Our Hands Up: On Indigenous Womens Love and Resistance, Decolonization: Indigeneity,
Education, and Society Blog, February 12, 2013,

75. Native Womens Association of Canada, Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in British Columbia, Canada
briefing paper published by the Native Womens Association of Canada for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
Ottawa, 2012, 3.

76. Pierre Bourdieu, In Other Words: Essays toward a Reflexive Sociology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), 127.

77. Lawrence, Real Indians and Others, 69.

78. Nason, We Hold Our Hands Up.

79. Turner, This Is Not a Peace Pipe, 5.

80. Ibid., 31.

Aamjiwnaag First Nation, 161
Abele, Frances, 59
Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 12122
Aboriginal Pipeline Group (APG), 76
Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians (1869), 84
Advisory Commission on the Development of Government in the Northwest Territories, 56
Agreement in Principle (1976), 6768, 6971
Alberta, 117, 164, 165
Alfred, Taiaiake: on Canadas approach to reconciliation, 122, 127, 187n53; Dale Turners critique of, 4546; on the goal of
Indigenous self-determination, 3536; on Indigenous expressions of nationhood, 64; on the persistence of colonial structures, 9, 42,
48, 51; on the role of personal and collective transformation, 151; on state responsibility for violence, 120; theorization of
Indigenous resurgence, 15459
Algeria, 16, 47, 146, 147
Algonquins of Barriere Lake, 117, 167
Althusser, Louis, 32, 44
Amry, Jean, 108, 109, 111, 114, 208n27
Anderson, Kim, 158
Angus, Ian, 52
Anishinaabe, 167, 169
Anthologie de la nouvelle posie ngre at malgache de langue franaise (Senghor), 13637
Anti-Semite and Jew (Sartre), 13336
Asch, Michael, 100, 12324
Assembly of First Nations (AFN): adoption of recognition language, 12; Idle No More and, 161, 162, 163, 164; against individual
rights, 86, 95; participation in constitutional conferences, 89
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 163, 164
Atleo, Shawn (Chief), 106
Attawapiskat Cree Nation, 128
Barker, Joanne, 8586
Barnaby, George, 65, 68
Barry, Brian, 18
Bdard, Yvonne, 85, 86
Being and Nothingness (Sartre), 134
Benhabib, Seyla, 79102
Berger, Thomas (Justice), 59, 200n90
Berger Inquiry, 59, 62, 70
Bhabha, Homi K., 82, 205n54
Bill C-31, 8788, 91
Bill C-45, 24, 12728, 160, 164, 165
Bill of Rights (1960), 85, 86, 95
black activism. See negritude movement
Black Orpheus (Sartre), 131, 13637, 144
Black Skin, White Masks (Fanon): on the colonized subject, 1718, 26, 3132, 44; critique of Hegels master/slave dialectic, 1617,
40, 139; on the dual structure of colonialism, 33, 113; on negritude, 131, 13948; on the value of negation, 169. See also Fanon,

Blake, Philip, 6263

Blatchford, Christie, 161
Blomley, Nicholas, 175
Blondin, George, 61
Bound by Recognition (Markell), 29
Bourdieu, Pierre, 177
British Columbia: antipipeline campaigns, 165; Delgamuukw case and, 41; First Nations blockades in, 117, 164; murdered and
missing Indigenous women, 167; Nisgaa claim to lands in, 5
Brown, Wendy, 101
Brudholm, Thomas, 1078, 11011, 126
Buchanan, Judd, 69
Cairns, Alan, 182n8
Calder, Frank (Chief), 5
Calgary Winter Olympics (1988), 117
Canada: agreement with Dene Nation and Metis Association, 7576; apology for residential schools (2008), 105, 12425, 126;
assimilationist policy, 3, 4, 5, 1213, 174; definition of Indigenous status, 84; having no history of colonialism, 1056, 108; Idle No
More and, 160, 163; legitimacy of sovereignty, 9192; loss of control over Indian Problem, 118; as a multinational state, 37;
Native claims policy, 56, 5859, 66, 122, 195n12; recognition of aboriginal rights, 2, 7173, 155, 163; role of Indigenous labor in,
1213; terra nullius argument, 91, 100, 175; turn to reconciliation politics, 1057, 11820, 15556. See also settler-colonialism;
individual provinces
Canadian Labor Congress, 69
Capital (Marx), 7, 10, 186n41
capitalism: colonialism and, 78, 1011, 172; as a condition of cultural accommodation, 66; discourse of sustainability, 77; ecological
critique of, 14; incommensurability with Indigenous values, 62, 15859, 173; primitive accumulation, 711, 13, 60, 15152, 184n35,
186(nn41, 45); racism and, 136, 13738; as a social relation, 11, 33; state ideology and, 32
Cardinal, Harold, 69
Carrothers Commission, 56
Caute, David, 132
Csaire, Aim, 138, 14546, 212n4
Charlottetown Accord (1992), 20, 8991
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 8788, 90, 91, 92, 119, 159
children, 4, 55
Chipewyan Dene, 54
Chrtien, Jean, 6, 173
The Claims of Culture (Benhabib), 80, 81, 99
colonized subjects: dangers of assimilation, 46; internalization of colonial status, 3133, 39, 42, 11213, 191n34; psycho-affective
attachment to colonial structure, 1718, 26, 15253; ressentiment and, 109, 11314, 142; ressentiment-infected nostalgia of, 147;
self-essentializing of, 145; self-objectification of, 139; self-recognition of, 4344, 11415, 131. See also settler-colonialism
Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement (COPE), 57
Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels), 185n39
Constitution Act of 1982, 2, 20, 8790, 92, 115, 116, 123
Cree, 6, 117
culture: colonialism and the misuse of, 94, 96, 103; defined, 6566; as a fluid, contested system, 82, 93, 156; hybridity of, 205n54;
liberation of territory and, 148; male-dominated interpretations of, 91; preservationist approaches to, 8081, 9293; in racism, 146
47, 215n85; separated from politics, 66, 71, 72, 123, 147, 204n46; as transitional category of identification, 153; universal rights and,
70, 9293. See also identity
Dancing on Our Turtles Back (Simpson), 148, 158
Day, Richard J. F., 3, 35, 102

Dean, Amber, 175

De Angelis, Massimo, 184n35
Dehcho Dene, 54, 76
Deloria, Vine, Jr., 60
democracy: anti-essentialist projects in, 102; deliberative, 7980, 81, 82, 99; direct or consensus-based, 73
Dene Nation: Agreement in Principle (1976), 6768, 6971; Agreement in Principle (1988), 75, 76; on cultural diversity, 51;
Declaration (1975), 1, 53, 64, 6971; Denendeh proposal, 7375, 17172, 199n76; land claims, 6775, 202n118; Mackenzie
Valley pipeline plan and, 6, 57; Metro Proposal (1977), 7071; on powerlessness over land administration, 56; withdrawal of
funding for secretariat, 76
Denendeh, 5354
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), 85
Dirlik, Arif, 9899, 102
Dogrib language, 61
Dosman, Edgar, 57
Drury, Charles (Bud), 72
Edmonton Report, 69
Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, 165, 170, 173
Engels, Friedrich, 9, 65, 185n39
Environmental Assessment Act, 127, 160
Erasmus, Georges (Chief), 67, 118, 199n76, 202n118
Fanon, Frantz: advocacy of violence, 31, 47; articulation of colonialism, 16; on cultural racism, 14647, 215n85; on Hegels
master/slave dialectic, 25; identification of asymmetrical forms of recognition, 25, 190n31; insights into ressentiment, 109, 11315,
12829; investigation of colonial psychology, 26; lived experience as black person, 32; on negritude, 13948, 212n4; on Octave
Mannoni, 214n47; promotion of self-affirmative cultural practices, 23; on Sartres characterization of negritude, 14142, 144,
215n71; on the self-recognition of the colonized, 131; stretching of Marxist paradigm, 34; on the value of negation, 169
FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), 200n86
Federici, Silvia, 9, 11
Ferro, Marc, 105
Fiddler, Alvin, 164
Finely, Chris, 157
Fisheries Act, 160
Foster, John Bellamy, 13
Foucault, Michel, 25, 214n49
The Fourth World (Manuel and Posluns), 1, 6869
Fraser, Nancy, 19, 27, 34, 3637, 52
Front de Libration Nationale (FLN), 47
Gathering Strength (Canada), 12123, 12426
The German Ideology (Marx and Engels), 65
Gibson, Nigel, 141, 215n71
Gines, Katherine, 132
Glenbow Museum, 117
God is Red (Deloria), 60
Goose Bay, Labrador, 117
Gordon, Jessica, 128, 160
Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), 55, 66, 70, 71, 72
Gramsci, Antonio, 113

Grassy Narrows, Ontario, 169

Great Bear Lake, 54
Great Slave Lake, 54
Green, Joyce, 88
Grendzier, Irene, 132
Grossberg, B. W. (Judge), 85, 86
grounded normativity, 13, 53, 6064, 172
Gustafsen Lake, British Columbia, 188n59
Gwichin Dene, 54, 76
Haida Gwaii, 167
Hardt, Michael, 9, 79, 93
Harper, Stephen: apology for residential schools, 105, 125; Chief Theresa Spence and, 160, 163; claim that Canada has no history of
colonialism, 106; error in treatment of Indian Problem, 173; on First Nations protests, 167; on the nonnegotiability of Bill C-45,
Harvey, David, 9
Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors (Alfred), 64
Hegel, Georg W. F.: on Africa, 10; concept of recognition, 27, 43, 134, 190(nn15, 31), 3127; and Marxs developmentalist ontology,
9; master/slave dialectic, 1617, 2729, 38, 3940, 134, 15253, 193n85
History and Class Consciousness (Lukacs), 34
The History of Sexuality (Foucault), 214n49
Honneth, Axel, 27, 36
hooks, bell, 48
Howard, Albert, 51
Hudson Bay, 53
Hunt Sarah, 102
identity: authenticity and, 13436; of the colonized subject, 1718, 2526, 3133, 39, 42, 46, 140; cultural hybridity and, 205n54;
essentialist formations of, 94, 98, 99, 14243, 145; intersubjective nature of, 2728; meaning derivation and, 29; misrecognition and,
2930; place-based ethics and, 6364; postcolonial, 44, 45; preservationist approaches to, 80, 8182; role of recognition in, 17, 44.
See also culture
identity politics, 131
Idle No More movement, 24, 12829, 15965, 173, 17677, 178
India, 10
Indian Act (1876): Assembly of First Nations defense of, 86; Bill C-31 and, 8788, 92; Bill C-45 and, 127, 160; Denendeh proposal
and, 201n99; eliminative principle of, 125; Indigenous womens struggle against, 80, 8587, 95; patriarchal misrecognition and, 21,
92, 103; removal of Indians from urban areas, 174; sexist provisions, 4, 8384
Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories (IB-NWT). See Dene Nation
Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (2007), 12627
Indian Rights for Indian Women, 84
Indians of Quebec Association, 68
Indigenous movement: the blockade in, 166, 169, 170; expressions of nationhood, 64, 107; feminist perspectives within, 21, 80, 8586,
1012, 15758, 178; in intellectual arenas, 8, 4546; Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords and, 21, 8991, 11516, 163; Oka
Crisis and, 21, 116, 163; opposition to 1969 White Paper, 45; period of heightened militancy, 11618, 120, 163; recognition-based
approach, 12; against resource exploitation, 6; resurgence, 153, 15459, 16573; role of gender in, 15758; role of ressentiment
in, 11415, 120, 126; in urban centers, 13, 17376; womens struggle within, 8492, 9596. See also Dene Nation; Idle No More
movement; land claims
Indigenousstate relations: asymmetrical recognition in, 15, 25; effective engagement in, 4547, 17879; essentialist identity
formation and, 9495, 98; fundamental restructuring of, 168; grounded normativity as a framework for, 62; growth of recognitionbased approaches to, 2, 3, 6; master/slave dialectic as analogy for, 3841, 43; the negotiation in, 162, 167, 170; as process of

dispossession, 67, 13, 1415, 60, 77, 12728; reconciliation politics and, 22, 1059, 111, 11820; UN study of, 6667
Innu, 117, 167
Inuit, 6, 53, 57
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, 57, 89
Inuvialuit, 57
Irlbacher-Fox, Stephanie, 120
Ivison, Duncan, 9798
James Bay, 6
Jewishness, 13336
Jobs and Growth Act, 24, 12728, 160
Johnson, David, 160, 163
Kahnawake, Quebec, 167
Kakfwi, Stephen, 202n118
Kanesatake, Quebec, 21, 116, 118, 188n59
Kant, Immanuel, 9
Das Kapital (Marx), 7, 9, 186n41
Kirsch, Stuart, 77
Klein, Naomi, 170
Kluane First Nation, 78
Kojve, Alexander, 27
Kompridis, Nikolas, 193n85
Kovel, Joel, 13
Kropotkin, Peter, 9, 11
Kruks, Sonia, 134
Kulchyski, Peter, 62, 95, 123
Kuokkanen, Rauna, 9
Kymlicka, Will, 2, 3637
labor, 78, 1011, 62, 16869, 189n68
land: in Canadian state-formation, 12; in the capital relationship, 14; in Indigenous anticolonialism, 13, 6263, 169; in Indigenous
metaphysics, 6061, 170; in Indigenous resurgence, 171, 176; in move from feudalism to capitalism, 7; undermining Indigenous
relations to, 4, 7678
land claims: Calder decision and, 5, 58; direct action and, 167; exclusion of political rights and, 72, 7576; extinguishment
provisions, 75, 12223, 125; and Indigenous attitudes to land, 7778; and recognition, 6566, 202n118; reversal of federal
governments policy on, 5859
LaRoque, Emma, 158
Laurier, Wilfrid, 174
Lawrence, Bonita, 92, 94, 176, 177
legal cases: Bdard v. Isaac, 8586, 95; Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia, 5, 58; Delgamuukw v. British
Columbia, 41, 124; Lavell v. Canada, 8586, 95; Lovelace v. Canada, 85, 87; R. v. Gladstone, 124; R. v. Marshall, 124; R. v.
Sparrow, 124; R. v. Van der Peet, 124; Re: Paulette and Registrar of Land Titles, 58; St Catherines Milling and Lumber
Company v. The Queen, 5
Lemay, Marcel, 116
Liberal Party, 164
Lightfoot, Sheryl, 2
Like the Sound of a Drum (Kulchyski), 62
Living with Nietzsche (Solomon), 105

Lovelace, Sandra, 85, 8687

Lubicon Cree, 117, 167
Lukacs, Georg, 34
Macey, David, 132
Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP), 76
Mackenzie River Valley, 53, 57
Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, 59, 62, 70
MacLachlan, Alice, 110
Manitoba, 163, 164
Mannoni, Octave, 214n47
Manuel, Arthur, 162
Manuel, George, 1, 6869
Markell, Patchen, 29
Martin, Paul, 173
Martinez, Miguel Alfonso, 6667
Martinique, 143
Marx, Karl: anti-ecological tendencies, 1314; on the bourgeoisie, 185n39; on colonial rule in India, 10; concept of mode of
production, 65, 198n60; economic reductionism, 14; in-itself vs. for-itself classes, 13738, 213n33; normative
developmentalism, 9, 11; study of non-Western societies, 186n41; theory of primitive accumulation, 711, 13, 60, 15152, 184n35,
186(nn41, 45); on violence of capitalism, 15
Marxism: anti-colonial struggles and, 62; concern with social relation, 11; and Indigenous studies, 8; understanding of class, 153
Matchewan, Jean-Maurice (Chief), 117
McAdam, Sylvia, 128, 160
McCullock, Jock, 132
McKegney, Sam, 121
McLean, Sheelah, 128, 160
McNally, David, 186n45
McParland, Kelly, 16162
Meech Lake Accord, 21, 8990, 11516, 163, 209n53
Memmi, Albert, 191n34
Menzies, Charles, 8
Mercredi, Ovide (Chief), 167
Mtis, 6, 54, 57, 76, 119
Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, 57, 64, 73, 75
Mtis National Council, 89
Mikailovsky, N. K., 186n41
Mill, John Stuart, 9
Mohawks, 21, 167
Monture, Patricia, 45, 101, 159
Morrow, William G. (Justice), 58
Mulroney, Brian, 89, 115
multiculturalism: democracy and, 9394; essentialism and, 8182; exchanges of recognition in, 29; justice and, 8283; the marriage of
culture and politics in, 51; vs egalitarianism, 18, 70, 9293
Murphy, Jeffrie, 110, 126
Nadasdy, Paul, 78
Nason, Dory, 102, 176, 17778

National Indian Brotherhood. See Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

National Post, 161
Native Council of Canada, 89
Native Womens Association of Canada, 84, 9091, 101, 164
Navigable Water Act, 127, 160
Negri, Antonio, 9, 79, 93
negritude movement, 23, 4344, 13133, 13648, 212n4, 213n33, 215n71
Neizen, Ronald, 2
Nepinak, Derek (Chief), 164
New Brunswick, 164, 165
New Democratic Party (NDP), 59, 69, 164
Newfoundland, 209n53
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 108, 111, 169, 208n27
Nisgaa, 5
Nisgaa Final Agreement (2000), 122
Nitassinan, 117
Northern Athapaskan language family, 54
Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland (Berger), 59
Northwest Territories (NWT): Dene homeland, 5354; Mackenzie Valley pipeline project, 6, 5657, 59; transfer of administration to,
5556; Treaties 8 and 11, 6. See also Dene Nation
Notebooks for an Ethics (Sartre), 213n15
Nunavut, 53
Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, 69
oil and gas extraction, 5657, 117, 165. See also resource extraction
oil crisis, 6
Oka Crisis, 21, 116, 118, 188n59
Ontario, 117, 160, 164
On the Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche), 108, 111
Oxfam Canada, 69
Palmater, Pamela, 162, 165
Panarctic Oils, 6
Parry, Benita, 214n49
Paulette, Franois (Chief), 58
Peace, Power, Righteousness (Alfred), 155, 156
Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel), 16, 27, 38, 40, 43, 48, 134
Philips, Ann, 20
The Philosophy of Right (Hegel), 190n15
Political Development in the Northwest Territories (Canada), 7172
Posluns, Michael, 1, 6869
postcolonialism, 44, 45
Prazniak, Roxann, 9899
Priorities of the North (GNWT), 7071
Prospero and Caliban (Mannoni), 214n47
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 5657, 59
Public Government for the People of the North, 7375

Quebec: and Charlottetown Accord, 20; First Nations blockades in, 21, 116, 117, 118; James Bay hydroelectric project, 6; and Meech
Lake Accord, 8990, 115; Quiet Revolution, 193n85
Quebecois, 30
racism: anti-black, 13738, 140, 14546; anti-racist, 114, 137; anti-Semitic, 13436, 140; cultural, 14647, 215n85; Dene Nation
accused of, 70
Racism and Culture (Fanon), 146
Rae, Bob, 164
Rawls, John, 110
Razack, Sherene, 17475
recognition: anti-essentialist critique of, 2024, 36, 79103; asymmetrical exchanges of, 15, 25, 30, 139; bestowed vs. won, 3839;
Hegels concept of, 2729; in identity formation, 17, 44; in Indigenous struggles, 13, 151; left-materialist challenge to, 1820, 51
52; neocolonial function, 3, 4243, 151, 152, 156; power relations and, 189n68; reconciliation politics and, 1067, 111, 119; Sartres
perspective on, 134; self-, 4344, 48, 11415, 131, 14041, 153; viewed as social status, 36; vs. redistribution, 1819, 3435, 52
reconciliation politics, 22, 1059, 111, 11820, 187n53
Red Power activism, 4, 193n85. See also Indigenous movement
Resentment in History (Ferro), 105
Resentments Virtue (Brudholm), 1078
residential schools, 105, 112, 121, 12425, 12627
resource extraction: Aboriginal rights and, 41, 7273; Bill C-45 and, 160; in the Denendeh proposal, 74; First Nations resistance
against, 6, 5758, 59, 170; in the vicinity of First Nation communities, 13, 5657
ressentiment, 108, 11012, 11415, 126
Ritchie, Roland (Justice), 86
Robinson, Raymond, 164
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), 70
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP): establishment, 2122, 115, 11820, 167, 181n4; 1996 Report, 12, 21, 108, 118
19; use of recognition language, 182n8
Sahtu Dene, 6, 54, 76
Sartre, Jean-Paul: on anti-Semitism, 13336; existential ethics, 213n15; Fanon and, 23, 27, 141, 215n71; on internalized colonialism,
113; on negritude, 131, 13639, 213n33, 215n71
Schaap, Andrew, 106
Senghor, Lopold, 13637, 143, 14748, 212n4
settler-colonialism: the city in, 17476; critical frameworks for, 148, 151; dual structure of, 32, 33; as a form of governmentality, 156;
and imperialism, 184n28; multiple axes of exploitation, 1415, 9495, 96, 172; normative status and legitimacy, 3637, 9192, 97
98, 99102; patriarchal nature of, 96, 1012, 157, 177; perpetually acquisitive nature, 125, 152; productive character, 152; proposed
transformation, 171, 179; psychological-economic structure, 113; reconciliation politics and, 22, 1067, 1089, 12021, 124,
187n53; as structured dispossession, 67; the commons in, 12; UN study on techniques of, 6667. See also Canada; colonized
Simpson, Leanne, 148, 15456, 15758, 162, 170
Smith, Adam, 7, 9, 110
Smith, Andrea, 9, 157
Smith, Neil, 175
socialism, 12
Solomon, Robert, 105, 110
South Africa, 1078
Spence, Theresa (Chief), 128, 160, 163
Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 4, 5, 58, 95, 161, 163, 179
Supreme Court of Canada: Calder decision (1973), 5, 58; Lavell and Bdard cases, 85, 86; on reconciliation, 124; refusal to
recognize Aboriginal rights, 41; terra nullius thesis, 100

Sret du Qubec (SQ), 116

Tanzania, 68
Taylor, Charles: on dialogical nature of life, 17; failure to confront dual structure of colonialism, 33, 35; on recognition and
misrecognition, 2931, 40, 193n85
Temagami First Nation, 117, 167
A Theory of Justice (Rawls), 110
This Is Not a Peace Pipe (Turner), 45, 178
Thunder in My Soul (Monture), 101
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Nietzsche), 111
Tlicho Agreement (2003), 122
Tlicho Dene, 54, 76
Tobique, New Brunswick, 86
transitional justice, 106, 1078, 121
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), 12627
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, 1078
TSeleie, Frank (Chief), 7677
Tully, James, 189n68
Turner, Dale, 4546, 107, 178
Turner, Lou, 38
Turner, Terrance, 81
United Nations: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 164; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 74, 87;
study on Indigenous populations, 6667
United States, 37, 5657, 200n86
United Steelworkers of America, 69
Usher, Peter, 59
A View of the Art of Colonization (Wakefield), 10
violence: cleansing value, 47; in colonialism, 15, 16, 113, 188n59; Indigenous youth and, 118; in neoliberalism, 9; as psychotherapy
of the oppressed, 4445; ressentiment and, 108, 112; state responsibility for, 120; in transition to capitalism, 7; against women,
Wagamese, Richard, 11112
Wah-Shee, James, 68
Wakefield, Edward G., 10
Wasse (Alfred), 51, 151, 154, 157
Weledeh Dene, 19, 54, 61, 76
West Indians and Africans (Fanon), 14446
White Paper (1969), 4, 5, 58, 95, 161, 163, 179
Widdowson, Frances, 51
Wilson, Nina, 128, 160
Wolfe, Patrick, 7, 125
women: Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, 159; in Idle No More movement, 128, 17677; and the Indian Act, 4, 80, 8396;
Indigenous feminism, 15758; Indigenous governance principles and, 172; as leaders of direct action, 117, 167; misrecognition and,
189n68; as victims of violence, 164, 167, 177
World Health Organization, 215n85
The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon): analysis of misrecognition, 31; articulation of colonialism in, 16; on cultural self-affirmation, 147,
153; influence on Charles Taylor, 33; Sartres preface to, 113; violence in, 4445. See also Fanon, Frantz

Yellowknife, 5556
Yellowknives Dene, 19, 54, 61, 76
Young, Robert, 26, 44
Yukon, 78

Glen Sean Coulthard (Yellowknives Dene) is an assistant professor in the First Nations Studies
Program and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia.